Watch above: Edmonton police are investigating reports of a sexual assault at a high school after-grad party. Jenna Bridges reports.
EDMONTON – The alleged sexual assault of a 17-year-old girl at an after-grad party has raised concerns of the prevalence of sexual violence in the city.
Several media outlets have reported the girl was allegedly sexually assaulted at a Harry Ainlay high school after-grad party last weekend. They also reported the alleged incident was possibly photographed or videotaped.
The Edmonton Police Service says its sexual assault section will not release any information about the alleged incident, which is now before the courts. The EPS adds there is much concern for the young victim.
Mitchell Kendrick, a Strathcona High School student, says the allegation doesn’t come as a surprise to him.
“It’s horrible, but you hear things like that and sometimes, sometimes it never gets out of the students, no one else finds out,” says the 17-year-old, who took part in Edmonton’s Slut Walk Saturday. The event is part of a worldwide movement against victim blaming and stereotypes surrounding sexual violence.
Kendrick carried a sign that read ‘You had me at consent.’ He says he believes consent should be openly discussed in schools, beginning at a young age.
“Rape culture: it’s something that we need to fix and we’re not,” he says. “That needs to be worked on.”
Experts say Edmonton has some of the highest rates of sexual assault in Canada, with 3.5 per cent of women and 1.4 per cent of men reporting they’ve experienced sexual assault in the past year.
Between 2009 and 2013, the number of sexual assault cases the EPS investigated in Edmonton jumped from 281 to 354.
And while sexual violence can often be a taboo subject, Maggie MacDonald, who also took part in Saturday’s Slut Walk, says she believes there can never be too much discussion about it.
“There is so little communication,” she says. “I just don’t think that those conversations happen as often as they rightfully should… It’s not a conversation that should be confined to one dynamic. I think that consent should be discussed between couples, it should be discussed between peers, it should be discussed in the classroom, it should be discussed in the household.”
The Edmonton Public School Board would not comment on the alleged sexual assault. It says after-grad celebrations are organized away from the school without the involvement of staff.
With files from Jenna Bridges, Global News.