November 22, 2018 12:24 am
Updated: November 22, 2018 10:38 am

Family, friends of teen accuser in Cuban sex assault case speak out

WATCH: Family of teen allegedly assaulted in Cuba speaks out

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More than nine months after an investigation was launched into an alleged sexual assault case involving three Canadian tourists in Varadero, Cuba, family members and friends of the teenage accuser in the case are speaking out exclusively to Global News.

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On Monday, family members of two Metro Vancouver police officers, Mark Simms and Jordan Long, constables with the Vancouver Police Department (VPD) and the Port Moody Police Department (PMPD) respectively, released a joint statement expressing their dismay over Cuban prosecutors’ plans to appeal a recent unanimous acquittal on sexual assault charges.

Simms was under investigation for sexual assault, while Long was being held as a material witness to the alleged incident.

READ MORE: B.C. police officers stranded in Cuba ‘close to the finish line,’ but not safe yet: Lawyer

In multiple written statements and off-camera interviews, the parents of the alleged victim are now speaking out in defence of their daughter, who was 17 years old at the time of the alleged incident, and is now 18 years old.

They say they wholeheartedly support the prosecutors’ plan to appeal the acquittal.

They say their daughter, a high school senior in Ontario at the time, was staying at the Sol Sirenas Coral Resort on a graduation trip that was organized through a third-party company called S-Trip.

WATCH: Two Metro Vancouver police officers face appeal in Cuba sex assault

The alleged incident occurred on the last full day of the planned group vacation, on March 14, 2018.

“On the evening before her return home to us, we received a horrifying phone call telling us that [our daughter] had been assaulted. Hearing those words were devastating.” Her mother said.

“I could hear her crying hysterically in the background. My heart sank.”

READ MORE: B.C. cops detained in Cuba for 8 months acquitted on sex assault charges

The statement continues to defend the character of their daughter.

“Our daughter is kind, hard working, compassionate and has a love of sports. She had aspirations of being a police officer, planning to attend college for Police Foundations in the fall of 2019. Those dreams have since changed.”

WATCH (Aired Nov. 15) B.C. police officers cleared of all charges in Cuba

A close family friend also provided a statement to Global News, defending the accuser’s character.

“There are always [two] sides to every story. Just because two men wear badges, does not mean they are innocent,” the statement said. “I know this young lady. She is athletic, responsible, and shy. She is not a […] heavy drinker or drug user.”

READ MORE: B.C. cops held in Cuba on sexual assault allegation being denied justice, says Vancouver reverend

The accuser’s parents are also refuting criticism surrounding their decision to leave Cuba and return to Canada days after the incident allegedly occurred. They say they chose not to return for the trial as it would have been traumatizing for their daughter, adding they were told that their daughter undergoing testing at a local hospital and filing a written police report was sufficient for the investigation.

“The trial in Cuba was quick and no further input was asked from us, only her statement and DNA evidence that was gathered,” the accuser’s father wrote. “We pray that justice will be served.”

Family members of the two men accused, Simms and Long, declined to comment Wednesday.

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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