Here’s how mistakes were made on 62 per cent of Kelowna RCMP’s sexual assault cases - InfoNews

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Here’s how mistakes were made on 62 per cent of Kelowna RCMP’s sexual assault cases

Kelowna RCMP Supt. Brent Mundle
March 07, 2020 - 8:00 AM

Kelowna RCMP are still dealing with several sexual assault cases dating back to 2018 that triggered a number of reviews over the past few months.

From the end of 2017 to October 2019 there were about 170 claims of sexual assault filed with Kelowna police. Out of those, 66 were recorded as unfounded, meaning police believe they never happened.

That was an exceptionally high number compared to police forces in the rest of the country so those 66 files were reviewed, ultimately, by a national review team.

The review said that 12 needed further investigation, 29 were incorrectly “scored" and 25 were correctly listed as unfounded. That means that 62 per cent of the so-called unfounded files had some mistakes in them.

iNFOnews.ca talked with Kelowna RCMP Supt. Brent Mundle and media relations officer Cpl. Jocelyn Noseworthy about what this all meant and how it happened.

Noseworthy explained what the term "unfounded" means.

“We can definitively prove that it did not happen,” she said. “It could be, in these days of social media we can get things that are third and fourth party complaints that people heard that this might have occurred and they’re worried about. When you track down the people who were actually involved it’s just rumours, innuendo, things like that.”

Or, in rarer cases, it could be things like false allegations.

Out of the 66 sexual assault cases that were listed as unfounded, the review said that 29 were incorrectly scored.

“Scoring” is essentially the coding that is put on a closed file in order to conform to Statistic Canada’s data collection system.

Those 29 were sexual assault complaints but the files were closed because, for example, there was insufficient evidence to proceed with a charge or the people involved declined to participate, Mundle said.

That could be someone filing a complaint then backing out, a third party reporting an assault that the victim did not want to pursue or a third party report of what they misunderstood to be a sexual assault.

Still, 12 of the 66 files that were reviewed do require further investigation.

That process is underway but may take a couple of months to complete.

In some cases, the federal Sexual Assault Review Team that looked into all these cases, just wanted better documentation, Mundle said. In others, they want additional statements to be taken.

"When you conduct a review like this, it's very intensive so, I wouldn't have expected that they would have come back and said 'there's no files that require follow-up,'" Mundle said. "They looked at them quite deeply. We've certainly taken their recommendations. All of those files will be re-examined for whatever additional investigation they've suggested."

Some of these files may be reviewed by the officers who did the original investigations.

But, Mundle is also setting up a four-person sexual assault unit this month. Their job will be to help general duty officers with new sexual assault investigations and they may take over those investigations. Members of the team will also review all sexual assault investigations. They will likely be involved in looking at these 12 as well.

Given the publicity over the unfounded issue and the fact that a number of Kelowna RCMP officers or former officers have been charged with things like sexual harassment and sexting, iNFOnews.ca asked if there was a problem with Kelowna RCMP culture that needed to be addressed.

“We have had some incidents of some member conduct that, once we became aware of those, we addressed them quite quickly and initiated our own internal processes that should demonstrate to the public that, when issues arise or are brought to our attention, we do manage and deal with them to ensure and maintain public confidence,” Mundle said. “I look at the staff of approximately 200 officers that we do have here. They come from a variety of backgrounds, including other employment before they came to the RCMP, a wide variety of educational backgrounds. They represent a number of different cultures or nationalities as well as our gender balance within our office.

“Based on all of that, I think it’s somewhat unfair to tarnish all of those individuals and paint that wide scope that there’s a culture within the office. I think there’s always room for improvement but policing is no different than other organizations or professions.”

He couldn’t give a gender ratio off the top of his head but did say it is much improved since he came to Kelowna as Superintendent in mid-2015.

A Statistics Canada report shows that, between 2009 and 2013, there was an average of 111 sexual assaults reported to the Kelowna RCMP in each year. That number was cut in half to 56 in 2014 – a change that was reflected in only one other census metropolitan area in Canada (Saguenay).

That was before Mundle arrived so he could not say whether that drop was due to a lack of confidence in the local RCMP.

No stats were available from Stats Canada since 2014 but Noseworthy said there were 82 reported sexual assaults in 2018.


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