Lawsuit alleges discrimination in police handling of London sexual assault
A woman whose sexual assault complaint was deemed unfounded by London police is suing the force, claiming the way investigators handle such cases constitutes systemic discrimination.
In a lawsuit filed last Friday, Ava Williams alleges police officers relied on myths related to rape and gender to evaluate and ultimately dismiss her case in 2010.
Williams says in her statement of claim that, among other things, the detective who interviewed her suggested she had in fact consented to sex and repeatedly alluded to her drinking and to the fact that she had kissed her alleged attacker earlier in the night.
Aside from seeking unspecified damages, Williams -- who has agreed to be identified -- is asking a court to declare that the investigation infringed on her constitutional rights.
She also wants the court to order that a panel of experts review how the force investigates sexual assault complaints, as well as review previous cases deemed unfounded.
The allegations in Williams' statement of claim have not been proven in court and no statement of defence has yet been filed.
Williams says it wasn't until the publication of a Globe and Mail investigation highlighting her case earlier this year that she realized many other complainants had similar experiences.
"I am bringing the claim to achieve justice for all sexual assault victims who have been discriminated against by the (London Police Service) and to ensure that the LPS and other police agencies enact meaningful policies to combat systemic discrimination," she said in a release.
Her lawyers say the suit is believed to be the first case of its kind "designed to prove that victims of such discriminatory conduct by the police are entitled to be awarded damages under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms."
They say the suit has been brought in the interest of all sexual assault complainants from 2010 until now, adding they may seek to have it certified as a class action later on.