RCMP have 'no clue' when it comes to sex assault cases: survivor

Heather Friesen

A woman who reported her own rape is slamming Kelowna RCMP for failing to take sexual assault investigations seriously.

Heather Friesen says she was just 15 years old when she was attacked. At the time she felt too much shame to report it to police.

"Slut shaming was definitely a weapon that my rapist used to get away with it."

After living with the fallout of that experience for more than thirty years, she decided to report it to Kelowna RCMP in 2018. According to Friesen, what followed was a superficial investigation coloured by apathy.

"They had no clue what they were doing. You could tell that they didn't know how to talk about sexual assault at all."

Her case was ultimately marked 'unfounded'; an official term meaning police don't believe that a crime ever occurred.

"They had phoned one of my rapists and he denied knowing me, he denied raping me, and they closed my case."

"At the time I didn't really know what unfounded meant. I was just mad that they didn't investigate my case."

In October, AM 1150 first reported that 40% of sexual assault cases are dismissed by Kelowna RCMP as unfounded.

"At the end of the day the RCMP aren't doing their job. And that's insulting, that's appalling, and it needs to change."

An internal police investigation earlier this month found no 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.

That means cases like Friesen's will get another look from experienced sexual assault investigators and experts in gender based violence. Friesen doesn't expect much from the exercise.

"The RCMP has never held itself accountable. So why are we trusting them to do it in our little town?"