RCMP say they need to talk to more people believed to be involved in alleged non-consensual druggings of University of British Columbia students, which they continue to investigate.
But the UBC professor whose tweet sparked the investigation says police are doing damage by suggesting some of the allegations did not happen.
Cpl. Chris Manseau stressed Monday that University RCMP investigators are taking the allegations seriously.
However, he said the investigation as it stands suggests it may have been fewer than six people who were drugged as initially reported, and that the incidents may not have happened at UBC fraternities.
“We’ve reached out to a number of who we thought were the alleged victim and the alleged witnesses, and people just haven’t come forward to speak with us yet,” Manseau said.
“The investigation is still ongoing, we just don’t have anything to substantiate (the allegations) at this time. However, if new information comes forward, obviously that’s going to change the direction of the file.”
UBC asked RCMP to open an investigation after a UBC professor posted to Twitter on Oct. 1, saying one of her students had met six women in hospital who reported being drugged on campus in the fraternity village.
Economics professor Marina Adshade tweeted that a student told her she’d been drugged in a Vancouver bar and that when she attended hospital she’d met the other alleged victims.
Providence Health Care said no drugging cases had presented to St. Paul’s Hospital last weekend. Vancouver Coastal Health said it was not able to verify any cases after checking with its emergency rooms.
Manseau said the student who made the initial report checked into the UBC clinic, rather than a city hospital.
He added those involved are likely involved with UBC fraternities, but RCMP don’t believe the alleged incidents took place inside any frat houses or elsewhere on campus.
The lack of concrete answers in the case is why Manseau said it’s critical for more people to come forward.
“If they’re not ready to come forward, that’s fine, I totally understand that,” he said. “Whether they’re scared and don’t want to participate, we don’t know. But we want to obviously be involved with all those witnesses before we make a final determination.
“The investigation is still ongoing, it’s definitely not solved. However, the information we have so far doesn’t lead to what was initially reported.”
The initial report prompted UBC to point students towards on-campus support services for those directly or indirectly impacted by sexual assault or harassment.
The UBC Alma Mater Society’s Sexual Assault Support Centre also invited those involved or impacted by the reports to seek out their services, while criticizing the involvement of RCMP and its potential impact on survivors.
Adshade said Monday the RCMP’s comments prove the centre’s point by suggesting there may not have been victims just because they haven’t been proven by witnesses.
“The problem for me, personally, is that now all the people who are writing me emails who claim to be fraternities, they’ve become emboldened to send me threatening letters that I lied and made the whole thing up, which is not true,” she said. “I simply reported what I was told.
“It’s incredibly difficult to prove a crime has taken place if you have no victims, so the whole investigation is problematic.”
Adshade added police have not been in contact with her beyond asking her for the name of the initial student, which she refused to share. UBC administration have also not reached out, she said.
As for whether the fraternities were involved, Adshade said her tweet sparked several other students to confide in her that they were drugged and sexually assaulted at frats.
“Regardless of whether the RCMP find evidence of that, it doesn’t change the fact that it happened,” she said.
Meetings between UBC staff and the university’s frats for “at length” discussions were said to take place in the days following the initial report.
UBC’s Interfraternity Council bylaws were changed in January to require fraternity brothers to attend yearly workshops on sexual consent and bystander intervention training.
The council has indefinitely suspended all social functions in the wake of the allegations.