UBCO has failed to have a human rights tribunal complaint against it thrown out. —Image: Capital News file

UBCO has failed to have a human rights tribunal complaint against it thrown out. —Image: Capital News file

UBCO fails to have sexual assault case thrown out

Former student claims report about sexual assault by another student was not handled properly

UBC Okanagan has failed in an attempt to have a B.C. Human Rights tribunal complaint against it dismissed.

In a ruling Thursday, the tribunal denied the university’s request to throw out a complaint by a former student who alleged she was sexually assaulted by another student in January 2013 and her report to UBCO was not handled properly .

As a result, Stephanie Hale said she began to suffer from anxiety and depression.

Hale, and the student she accused, were both 18 years of age at the time of the alleged assault and she was in her first semester at UBCO.

Because of a time-limit decision issued last February concerning the case, and another B.C. Human Right Tribunal decision involving Hale, her current complaint to the tribunal only centres on UBCO’s policies and procedures for responding to sexual assault, starting with her February 2016 complaint to the university’s Equity and Inclusion Office.

The university wanted Hale’s complaint, filed on the basis of sex and mental health, dismissed because it said it felt the case was unlikely to succeed.

But tribunal member Emily Ohler disagreed, saying the university had a responsibility to assist Hale, and UBCO did not convince her the case should not move forward.

While ruling the case could proceed, Ohler also encouraged both Hale and UBCO to use mediation services provided by the tribunal to resolve the issue and avoid the time and expense of a hearing.

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