Internal review into unfounded sexual assault cases in Kelowna completed by RCMP

Kelowna RCMP Facebook Page

An internal review of sexual assault files has been completed and is back in the hands of Kelowna RCMP, but the findings are not yet being released.

In October, it came to light that 40 percent of sexual assault cases in 2017 and 2018 were dismissed as unfounded, meaning investigators don't believe a crime was committed or attempted.

After hearing this, Survivor and Activist Heather Friesen began a petition asking the City of Kelowna to approve a Sexual Assault Investigation Unit.

Friesen says rape culture needs to be recognized as a key reason these crimes continue to happen.

“And we need to start acknowledging that it starts at the top and that's the reason the sex crime unit isn't being approved, because of rape culture. The people at the top of the chain don’t understand it, they don't want to acknowledge it, they're not even willing to discuss it,” said Friesen.

Friesen hopes the review will lead to the creation of a police unit in charge of investigating sexual assaults in Kelowna.

That would mean “we would have a designated unit with specifically trained officers that are designated to investigate sexual assaults and rape, so that victims will feel more comfortable coming forward and reporting, to get rapists off the street.”

January is Sexual Assault Awareness month.

Friesen had a few words to share with survivors and those in a position of power.

“To survivors, it's that you are believed. To the government and the people in governance, saying you believe and that you are sorry is no longer enough. It is time to take action. I am tired of people remaining neutral because survivors and victims don't have the option of remaining neutral,” said Friesen.

Friesen said she will continue to speak up, until it is acknowledged that rape culture is a huge problem and until officials are willing to sit down and find a solution.

Kelowna RCMP is reviewing the review’s results and will provide an update within the next few weeks.