Indigenous woman sues RCMP officer over interview asking if she was ‘turned on’ by sexual assault
An Indigenous woman is suing a British Columbia RCMP officer over a “malicious, degrading” and “victim blaming” interview she gave while reporting a sexual assault in West Kelowna in 2012.
That interview, described as an “interrogation” in the suit, sparked national outrage last month when video surface revealing the questioning officer asking: “Were you at all turned on during this at all, even a little bit?”
B.C.’s minister of justice and the attorney general of Canada are also named in the suit.
WATCH: (Aired June 1) B.C. RCMP confirm review of disturbing 2012 interrogation
“We filed the case because it’s obvious from anyone objectively looking at that video that the officer’s conduct was egregious and harmful,” said Michael Patterson, the lawyer for the plaintiff.
“We deal with RCMP officers every day. And for most part, while we may not agree with them, they are professional in the way that they carry out their duties. The behaviour of that officer on the on the video is a marked and total departure.“
Canada’s Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale has called the video “absolutely abhorrent,” while B.C.’s Minister of Children and Family Development Katrine Conroy called it “heart-wrenching” and “appalling.”
The B.C. RCMP has promised a “fulsome review” of the incident.
WATCH: Video surfaces of West Kelowna RCMP officer interrogating Indigenous teen reporting sex assault
Global News is not identifying the woman because she was a minor at the time of the incident.
In her notice of civil claim, filed in B.C. Supreme Court on June 14, the woman states she was in the care of the Ministry of Children and Family Development (MCFD) at the time and “vulnerable to abuse given her history of parental neglect, medical neglect, transiency and exposure to traumatic circumstances.”
The suit states that the woman attended the West Kelowna RCMP detachment in March 2012 to report a serious sexual assault.
But it claims that the interviewing officer, Kelowna RCMP Cpl. Kenneth Hall, treated her instead as a suspect for public mischief.
The suit alleges that the two-hour interview, which took place with the permission of two MCFD social workers, made no serious inquiries into her complaint.
WATCH: RCMP officer condemned for questioning of alleged sexual assault victim
Instead, it alleges that Hall and the social workers “used the degrading, malicious interrogation as a punishment for the plaintiff.”
“Hall intentionally and repeatedly used questions that amount to stereotyping of a sexual assault victim, which caused the plaintiff to doubt her complaint,” the notice of claim alleges.
The suit claims the woman’s charter rights were violated and that both the RCMP as an organization and Hall were negligent.
It alleges the woman has suffered serious consequences as a result of the interview, ranging from post-traumatic stress disorder to depression, anxiety and suicidal ideation.
The suit seeks a range of damages as compensation.
The defendants have yet to file responses to the suit.
In an email, the RCMP said Cpl. Hall was not doing interviews, and that it was still confirming whether all parties named in the suit had been formally served.
It said once that has happened, the Ministry of Justice would provide an official response to the allegations through he court process.
It referred to a statement issued by Dept. Comm. Jennifer Strachan earlier this month promising a review of the matter.
“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,” said Strachan.
“We also recognize that a negative experience with police investigators can bring more trauma to victims, and discourage others from reporting these crimes.”
The suit is distinct from a separate suit Patterson said his client has filed against the MCFD for the alleged actions of its social workers.
None of the claims has been proven in court.
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