The commanding officer of the B.C. RCMP says the force is conducting a review of a 2012 investigation, after a video of a male officer interrogating an Indigenous teen who reported a sexually assault was made public.
The video, published by APTN last month, shows a Kelowna RCMP officer interviewing a young Indigenous woman for two hours, including asking if she was “turned on ... even a little bit” during the alleged assault and questioning how hard she resisted her attacker, against whom no charges were ever laid.
The video was released as part of a civil suit against British Columbia’s Ministry of Child and Family Development. The young woman said she experienced the assault in the B.C. foster-care system.
In a statement released on Saturday, deputy commissioner Jennifer Strachan, said the force is aware of the concerns raised by the case and confirmed that a “fulsome review” of the 2012 investigation is underway.
“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 statement reads.
“We also recognize that a negative experience with police investigators can bring more trauma to victims, and discourage others from reporting these crimes.”
However, she said the RCMP had to limit their comments around this case because of restrictions under the Youth Criminal Justice Act, Privacy Act, a current Criminal Code investigation and civil litigation proceedings.
The statement also mentions the force is developing its cultural competency training, trauma-informed investigations training and an advanced course for sexual assault investigators.
Politicians have expressed outrage after the video became public. Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale called it “absolutely abhorrent" during Question Period last month.
He said the interrogation techniques shown in the video were “profoundly outdated, offensive and wrong."
B.C.’s former child representative Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond says the heinous treatment of this young woman isn’t a single case but a pattern that she has seen “again and again.”
In 2016, she produced a report showing at least 109 girls were the victims of sexualized violence while in government foster care, and that 74 of them were Indigenous. The case of the teen in the 2012 recording was among them.
Ms. Turpel-Lafond, who is now a law professor at the University of British Columbia, said young women who face sexualized violence and then get inappropriate responses by police are less likely to get support and more likely to be preyed upon, and added that an effective complaints process for such treatment is sorely lacking.
With files from The Canadian Press