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Video of West Kelowna RCMP officer interviewing sexual assault victim sparks outrage

During Question Period this morning, federal politicians condemned the actions of an RCMP officer in West Kelowna who interviewed a young girl reporting a sexual assault.

Andrew Scheer brought up a video published yesterday by APTN News. In the mentioned video was from a 2012 incident where a young Indigenous girl was being inappropriately interviewed by an officer at the West Kelowna detachment.

The officer asks the youth questions such as “Were you at all turned on during this at all? Even a little bit.”

The officer also enquired how hard the victim fought back. “You understand that when a guy tries to have sex with a female and the female is completely unwilling, it is very difficult,” he said.

A spokesperson for the RCMP confirmed that the video of the interrogation, which is now public, lasted for two hours.

“Obviously this line of questioning was appalling and insensitive to the young woman who was coming forward with her story,” said Scheer. “I would like to ask the minister of public safety if he could update the house as to whatever reviews he might be contemplating so this type of thing does not happen again.”

Ralph Goodale, minister of public safety, responded saying that “What was revealed in that video was absolutely abhorrent.”

“The apparent attitudes and techniques that were on display in 2012 are profoundly outdated offensive and wrong,” he continued. “The RCMP and police forces must work continuously to conduct themselves appropriately. No survivor of sexual assault should ever feel that their case will not be taken seriously or that they will be revictimized in the process.”

Nathan Cullen, MP for Skeena-Bulkley Valley, responded to the news by saying “I don’t understand how this happens. A male officer asking a young Indigenous woman reporting sexual assault ‘were you turned on?’”

He added that the matter should be investigated and the officer should be reprimanded at the very least.

APTN reported that there were no charges laid against the alleged rapist, and it is unclear what happened to the officer.

NowMedia reached out to the RCMP for comment on the video.

“Unfortunately, the RCMP is not in a position to provide further context or perspective as the case is subject to restrictions under the Youth Criminal Justice Act, an ongoing Criminal Code matter and civil litigation proceedings,” said Cpl. Janelle Shoihet, spokesperson for the RCMP.

She added that they believe that the ongoing judicial processes may allow for a fulsome disclosure of all the 2012 investigative findings and actions for assessment.

Despite not being able to comment on the case specifically, Shoihet said that they do understand there is a greater discussion taking place around sexual assault investigations.

“The RCMP has been public in the past around the evolution of police investigational standards and training,” said Shoihet.

“Those efforts have included strengthening police training and awareness, investigative accountability, victim support, and public education and communication.”

In 2017, the RCMP released The Way Forward: The RCMP’s Sexual Assault Review and Victim Support Action Plan, a report that outlines a review of unfounded sexual assault files.

Shoihet says that a course on interviewing witnesses and victims was recently update and new training for officers continues to be a priority. They are also working on establishing an external review model, similar to the Philadelphia Model, which can be adapted to fit municipal, provincial, and territorial jurisdictions.

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