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RCMP sex assault review should be public, says Kelowna Mayor

Heather Friesen
February 25, 2020 - 7:48 AM

Heather Friesen was extremely angry yesterday, Feb. 24 over the silence by Kelowna city council on the high number of “unfounded” sexual assault complaints filed with Kelowna RCMP.

But her small protest with one other woman, and giving the finger to council as she stormed out of City Hall, may get one of the results she wanted — the public release of a review of Kelowna RCMP’s dismissal record of investigating dozens of sexual assault charges in recent years.

“Given the public nature of this story, certainly the public needs to hear the outcome,” Mayor Colin Basran told the media after the council meeting ended.

This all started last fall when it became public that, out of 169 sexual assault complaints filed with Kelowna RCMP from 2017 through to the summer of 2019, 40 per cent were listed as “unfounded” – meaning the investigating officer did not feel that a crime was attempted or occurred. The national average was 14 per cent.

At the time, Basran voiced his full support for the RCMP, then later backtracked on those comments.

First the B.C. RCMP, then its national Sexual Assault Review Team reviewed the Kelowna cases. The results of the national review were handed to Kelowna RCMP more than a month ago but nothing has yet been made public.

Friesen, who has said she was a victim of sexual assault, and another woman held up signs during yesterday’s council meeting criticizing councillors and the mayor for not speaking out on the issue. After storming out of the meeting, she said she wanted the review to be made public.

When asked by media if council had seen the review, Basran said it had not but that he would ask the RCMP for it.

Asked if it would advocate to make it public, Basran initially said he was not sure and it was not something he had thought about, before saying it should be made public.

When asked why he had not asked for the report already, he said there is a process for the RCMP to go through in dealing with the report and these things take time.

Friesen also accused Basran of refusing to meet with her, which he flatly denied.

“That is completely false,” he said. “The last time she requested a meeting with me was yelling at me at a public meeting at UBCO. I have not seen any formal request from her to meet with me.”

Friesen said she has sent emails to Basran and he has not responded. Basran denied getting emails from her asking for a meeting.

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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