With her eyes cast down but speaking in a strong, clear voice, the young woman whose alleged sexual assault brought the potentially brutal downside of social media into full view said she was devastated that charges were stayed against one man days before he was headed to trial in relation to the incident.
And she also seemed to speak directly to those who have questioned her account or the degree to which any sexual activity that occurred may have been consensual.
“No one in their right state of mind, including myself, would let something like that happen to them willingly,” the girl, whose identity is protected by a publication ban, told reporters at a press conference in Pitt Meadows on Wednesday.
“To anyone who thinks this is okay, I would like you to take your mother, your girlfriend, wife, sister, niece, daughter – any female you know – and go do this to them.
“It is wrong and we all know it.”
The girl’s father, sitting beside her at a table facing a roomful of reporters, also emphasized his belief that his daughter was the victim of an assault, saying she was injured in the incident. He urged anyone who has information that could aid the investigation – which police say has been hampered by a “code of silence” – to come forward.
“At some point in your life, you will have to explain, perhaps to your own kids, to do what’s right in life,” he said. “And it’s never too late to do that. This is your time to do what’s right.”
Police say the girl was assaulted on Sept. 10, 2010, at a rural property in Pitt Meadows, east of Vancouver in the Fraser Valley, and that images of the incident were then shared online.
In the days after the incident, images posted online spread “like wildfire,” police say. Officers made public pleas for people to stop sharing and distributing them, pointing out that to do so could result in charges of distributing child pornography.
Police visited area schools to talk to students about the implications of posting images or other material online even as discussions raged on social media.
On Tuesday, the Crown announced a stay of proceedings against Colton Ashton McMorris, a 19-year-old who’d been charged with sexual assault, saying it did not have enough evidence to proceed.
Mr. McMorris’s lawyer, Tony Serka, told CBC radio on Wednesday that his client was innocent, that his name had been tainted by the publicity around the case, which he compared to “trial by press conference.”
Mr. McMorris went with the girl and her friends to a fast-food restaurant after the incident, Mr. Serka told the radio station.
That conduct doesn’t jibe with somebody being guilty of doing the act, said Mr. Serka, who added that his client’s name will forever be associated with date rape and sexual assault.
At the press conference, RCMP spokesman Sgt. Peter Thiessen would not comment on specific details of the case or why charges were stayed.
But he insisted the investigation is not over.
“Our investigators are not going to give up and stop trying to get the evidence we know is out there,” Sgt. Thiessen said. “We owe it to the family and the community owes it to the family to do the right thing.”
The Crown has a year to gather more evidence and reactivate the charge.
Earlier this month, a 17-year-old boy was sentenced to 12 months of probation after pleading guilty to one charge of distributing obscene material in relation to the incident. His identity is protected under the Youth Criminal Justice Act.
Another man, Dennis John Allen Warrington, faces charges of making and distributing child pornography in connection with the case.