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RCMP orders review into handling of sexual assault interview after video made public

RCMP have ordered a review of a 2012 investigation after a video became public showing an RCMP officer interrogating a young Indigenous woman who reported a sexual assault.

A still from this 2012 RCMP interview shows a male officer interviewing an Indigenous teenager who complained about a sexual assault. The officer asked her if she was ‘turned on at all’ by the alleged attack. (RCMP)

RCMP have ordered a review of a 2012 investigation, after video of an RCMP officer interrogating a young Indigenous woman who reported a sexual assault became public. 

The 2012 video, released as part of disclosure in an ongoing civil suit, shows the woman, then 17 years old, sitting in a room in the Kelowna RCMP detachment with a lone male RCMP officer as he asks if she’s aware the alleged offender might have to go to jail.

At one moment in the video, the officer asks if she was “turned on at all” by the incident.

The woman, now 24, made the video public after it was provided by her lawyers.

She cannot be identified because she was a minor at the time and is also part of a civil suit against a former Kelowna social worker.

‘Abhorrent’

The video drew swift condemnation after it became public on May 15.

Minister of Public Safety Ralph Goodale called the video “abhorrent” after Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer raised it in question period.

In a written statement, Deputy Commissioner Jennifer Strachan, commanding officer of the B.C. RCMP, wrote that police must limit their comments around the case because of restrictions under the Youth Criminal Justice Act, Privacy Act, an ongoing Criminal Code investigation and civil litigation proceedings.

However Strachan wrote that “our inability to provide further context or perspective does not mean we have not heard the concerns” and that a “fulsome” review has been ordered.

“We agree that on the surface this case doesn’t appear to align with public expectations or the current standards and practices in place when addressing sex assault investigations and supporting victims,” the written statement reads in part.

“We also recognize that a negative experience with police investigators can bring more trauma to victims, and discourage others from reporting these crimes.”

Strachan wrote the RCMP is committed to improving how they investigate allegations of sexual assault, and that an RCMP course on interviewing witnesses and victims was recently updated.

“Cultural competency training, trauma-informed investigations training and an advanced course for sexual assault investigators are under development,” she wrote.

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