Kelowna's top cop apologizes for mishandled sexual assault complaint | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Kelowna's top cop apologizes for mishandled sexual assault complaint

FILE PHOTO - Kelowna RCMP Supt. Kara Triance apologizes about the lack of consultation with the Kelowna Pride Society prior to a new LGBTQ+ program's rollout, Feb. 23, 2021. Supt. Triance issued a statement Nov. 24, 2021, apologizing for the behaviour of an officer who failed to believe a woman who was trying to file a rape complaint.

When RCMP Supt. Kara Triance made her first report to Kelowna City Council in April 2021 it was clear she had a strong focus on changing the way the detachment responded to complaints of sexual assault.

Now she’s apologized for the behaviour of one of the officers she inherited who failed to believe a woman who was trying to file a rape complaint.

“I have very high expectations of my police officers when it when it comes to professionalism, respect, accountability, and how we deliver our police services,” Triance said in a written statement released yesterday, Nov. 23.

“As Kelowna’s commander, I am deeply apologetic that our initial response to this incident was not in line with our investigative standards, nor was it a trauma informed approach to sexual violence.”

READ MORE: Kelowna RCMP want to become more sensitive to victims of sexual assault

The alleged rape happened in September 2019 and the victim tried to file the complaint with Const. Lesley Smith at the Rutland RCMP officer in May 2020. Triance was not appointed as commander of the Kelowna detachment until the fall of 2020.

The victim filed a complaint with the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission in March 2021, accusing Smith of neglect of duty and Improper Attitude. Those complaints were supported by the commission.

The victim told the commission that Smith had responded to her complaints by saying her comments were confusing and would not stand up in court, that she had misinterpreted the actions of her assailant and “the incident didn’t count because you didn’t scream ‘no’ and threaten to call the police.”

Smith is alleged to have told the victim it wasn’t worth the RCMP’s time to investigate.

An investigation has since been conducted into the victim’s complaints of sexual assault and Kelowna RMCP have recommended that charges of sexual assault be filed against her assailant, the RCMP release says.

Const. Smith has retired from the force

While these events happened before Triance took the job, they came at a time when there were a number of concerns about the attitude the detachment had towards sexual assault.

That was triggered, in part, by the fact that 40 per cent of sexual assault charges were ruled as unfounded in Kelowna versus a national average of about 15 per cent.

That resulted in a review of 66 files. While most were ruled as truly unfounded or misfiled, 12 were investigated further.

READ MORE: Kelowna RCMP will investigate 12 sexual assault cases after review

A Kelowna police officer was, at that time, facing charges of  sexually assaulting his girlfriend. That happened in 2015 but the trial did not go ahead until 2021. He was found not guilty.

READ MORE: Kelowna RCMP officer found not guilty of sexual assault

It was also about the time, January 2020, when a woman settled a civil suit alleging mishandling of her sexual assault complaint by Kelowna RCMP and others in 2012.

READ MORE: RCMP settle controversial civil suit involving Indigenous Kelowna teen's rape complaint

The detachment plans to have all officers trained in programs such as Trauma Informed Response and Start by Believing by 2023 so they’re better able to “improve outcomes for those impacted by violence and to ensure our officers standards of investigation are reflective of modern trauma science and research,” the RCMP news release says.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Rob Munro or call 250-808-0143 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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