Kelowna RCMP should be investigated by 'outside source': woman who reported sex assault
A young Indigenous woman is calling for an outside investigation into the conduct of a Kelowna RCMP officer who handled her report of a 2012 sexual assault.
The woman, who was 17 at the time of the initial report, says she's "a little undecided" about how she feels the Deputy Commissioner of the RCMP responded to video from 2012 showing her being questioned by a Kelowna RCMP officer as she reports a sexual assault.
"On one hand I do believe it's a good thing for them to actually be reviewing some cases and this case in particular," she said, adding that she has some concerns.
"I'm worried and concerned it might just be what they call lip service."
In the video, which surfaced in May, an officer is seen asking the girl whether she was "at all turned on" during the alleged sexual assault.
It wasn't until June 1 that the RCMP broke its silence, saying it was aware of concerns raised by the video.
"They need to be investigated by an outside source," said the woman in response. "I don't think that they'll do a full investigation on themselves properly."
But Deputy Commissioner Jennifer Strachan said the RCMP is limited to how much it can release, citing restrictions under the Youth Criminal Justice Act, Privacy Act, an ongoing criminal investigation and a civil lawsuit.
Strachan said despite how little they have been able to comment, it does not mean the force is not aware of the concerns.
"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. We also recognize that a negative experience with police investigators can bring more trauma to victims, and discourage others from reporting these crimes," she said in a press release.
"I can confirm a fulsome review of the 2012 investigation is underway and we have engaged with various individuals and agencies that have expressed concerns."
Mounties confirmed the officer seen in the video is still an employee of the RCMP, but would not elaborate further.
This case is hitting the headlines as the country discusses Indigenous issues on a much larger scale.
On Monday, the 1,200-page report on missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls was released.
It revealed "persistent and deliberate human and indigenous rights violations and abuses" and has been called a "Canadian genocide."
"Somewhere in my heart and in seeing how the RCMP has acted towards other members of this community made me realize I need to share this story," the woman explained.
Though throughout this experience she says she's had some "self-doubt."
She said it can be hard because she doesn't feel her story deserves more prominence than others who have suffered.
But she hopes her story helps bring justice for others.
"I have video validation and video proof towards the RCMP so I think that gives me a lot of power over these other people and it makes me uncomfortable, but it needs to be done because I needed to share my story so that other people have more courage to come forward and share their stories," she said.