Indigenous woman in RCMP interrogation video speaks out

RCMP interrogation vidoe

As Kelowna RCMP face mounting criticism for their handling of sexual assault investigations, an indigenous woman is stepping forward to share her experience with the detachment.

Aden Withers says she went to West Kelowna RCMP to report a sexual assault back in 2012. Police proceeded to aggressively interrogate Withers, who was still a teenager at the time.

"I felt very alone and vulnerable. I had no idea what was happening to me was wrong because no one bothered to educate me on my rights back then."

APTN first reported the story after obtaining video from inside the interrogation room. The footage lead to widespread criticism of Kelowna RCMP by advocates and politicians at all levels of government. Withers remained anonymous at the time.

On Wednesday, the 25-year-old shared her identity publicly to support other victims of sexual assault and to condemn the RCMP's handling of cases like hers. The decision comes in the wake of news reports revealing Kelowna RCMP dismiss 40 percent of reported sexual assaults as 'unfounded'.

"It's more than double the national average, and that's just sickening to me. And it made me feel bad for the other 35 people who weren't believed, just like me."

An internal police investigation found no immediate explanation for Kelowna's exceptionally high unfounded rate. Now the detachment has asked the RCMP's Sexual Assault Review Team to re-examine all of their unfounded cases from the last two years.

The gesture is of little significance to Withers, who believes the police are incapable of holding themselves accountable.

A protest has been planned outside RCMP headquarters this Saturday to decry the detachment’s conduct and demand further action.