Aden Withers (left) and Heather Friesen (right) during the protest of the Kelowna RCMP on Nov. 23. (Michael Rodriguez - Capital News)

Kelowna mayor to request RCMP’s ‘unfounded’ sexual assault report

RCMP said the report was completed over a month ago but have yet to release it or make a statement

More than a month after Kelowna RCMP announced the completion of its internal review about the high number of sexual assaults that were deemed “unfounded” in 2018 and 2019, an update has yet to be given.

Now, following a brief protest in council chambers on Monday, the mayor said he will request the report himself.

The City of Kelowna and the local detachment came under fire in October 2019 after Kelowna Capital News revealed nearly 40 per cent of sexual assaults reported to police were deemed “unfounded.”

Subsequently, the RCMP launched an internal investigation into those numbers, the results of which are now in the hands of Kelowna Mounties.

“We have completed the review and are going through the results,” wrote RCMP Cst. Solana Pare in a Jan. 23 release. “When we have a full understanding of the results, we will provide an update which should be within the next few weeks.”

Those few weeks have now passed and Kelowna’s sexual assault survivors and allies are left waiting for answers.

“I’m embarrassed that this is what our city has become,” said survivor Heather Friesen after her demonstration in council chambers.

“It’s been over a month and we haven’t heard a word. Why? Because they have to put their spin on it.

“I want answers; I’m tired of waiting. Why (isn’t city council) asking for it? Why aren’t they protecting the citizens of Kelowna? Why aren’t they asking for answers for the city of Kelowna? Their silence is rape culture.”

Following the council meeting, Mayor Colin Basran confirmed he will request the report from the RCMP but until it is released there’s nothing he can say on the matter.

“Until we know the findings of the report, and until I see it, there isn’t really anything to talk about,” he said.

“Would I like to know the findings of that report? I would. And would I be willing to request the results of that? Yes, I would.”

The mayor said that a sexual assault unit within the Kelowna RCMP, as Friesen has been petitioning for, is a possibility if it’s recommended by the report.

Friesen said the mayor has ignored numerous requests for a one-on-one meeting. Basran denied the accusation and said he would gladly meet with her.

“That is completely false. The last time she requested a meeting, she was yelling at me at a public meeting at UBCO,” said Basran.

Kelowna Capital News’ requests for comment from the RCMP were not returned.

READ MORE: ‘Please be quiet,’ Kelowna Mayor tells sexual assault survivor protesting in council chambers

READ MORE: Kelowna RCMP completes internal review of sexual assault cases deemed ‘unfounded’


@michaelrdrguez
michael.rodriguez@kelownacapnews.com

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