Content warning: graphic details of sexual assault and violence
She said she invited him in for a movie – but he wanted more.
She said he tried to pull her legs apart, but she was menstruating and didn’t want to have sex. She said he became agitated and demanded that she pleasure him orally, then grabbed her arms, dragged her to the edge of the bed, and kept pressuring her.
“I agreed to have sex only if a condom was used, as a way to stop him from pestering me,” the UBCO student told The Phoenix.
She said he agreed to this but then penetrated her without a condom anyways.
“He choked me until I was gasping for air, then slapped me,” she said. “I instinctively raised my hands to retaliate but he pushed my arms down.”
She said he flipped her over, pinned her, and continued to penetrate her. When she asked him why he did it, the accused allegedly blamed her for “tempting” him.
The next day, the student went with her friend – who The Phoenix will refer to as T.A. – to the Kelowna General Hospital for a rape test kit. The nurse suggested that the student contact the police to make a report. She went to the Rutland Police Office to provide an official statement.
She told The Phoenix that the police deemed the case a “moral boundary issue” instead of sexual assault because the two had known each other. She said one constable told her it was not a criminal issue and that “unfortunately, some people partake in kinky sex.” She said the police threw out the case before reviewing the rape kit results.
She told the police that the alleged assailant – who was a former UBCO student – was harassing her on Instagram and by text using two different phones, but claims she was told that she would have to end the “relationship” on her own. She said that the constable expressed hope that she would stop seeing the assailant, but that “relationships are complicated.”
According to a 2017 Statscan report, just over half of sexual assault victims knew the person who sexually assaulted them and were most often “a friend, acquaintance or neighbour.” And according to an investigation by The Globe and Mail, police forces in Canada “are dismissing a disproportionate number of rape cases as unfounded” across the country. According to the Globe, false accusations make up only two to eight percent of all allegations – but Kelowna’s police dismissed 20 percent of sexual assault cases from 2010 to 2014.
UBC’s Sexual Violence Prevention and Response Office (SVPRO) helped the student file a complaint against the officer in charge of her case. They also liaised with UBCO Campus Security on her behalf.
“Campus Security is requesting a no-trespass order for an individual, but due to privacy requirements the university cannot comment on the individuals involved or details of the allegations,” said Director of University Relations Bud Mortenson.
The Kelowna RCMP – speaking after the SVPRO filed a complaint – told The Phoenix that they are aware of an allegation but claimed the case was not closed.
“An investigation … remains active, will be continually monitored and is ongoing at this time,” said Corporal Jesse O’Donaghey in a statement. “The RCMP are mindful of the sensitive nature of the allegations put forward and are confident in the progress that has been made.”
The Phoenix News reached out to the accused for comment but he directed all questions to his lawyer, Michael Hansen. The Phoenix News called Hansen multiple times but was unable to reach him.
T.A. posted her friend’s allegation – including the name of the accused – on Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram on September 29. The posts were widely shared. She also read a statement from her friend on Heatwave Radio. On October 3, T.A. organized a sexual assault rally that did not involve her friend. She told The Phoenix that the purpose was to “open conversations about sexual assault, and make it easier for people to speak out.”
On October 3, Hansen sent T.A. and three other students a cease and desist letter that threatened legal action unless the posts were taken down. The letter was not directed to the alleged victim, as she had not posted allegations publicly.
“The accusations made against our client in the various social media portals are unsubstantiated, false and designed to harass,” wrote Michael Hansen of Benson Law LLP in the letter obtained by The Phoenix.
T.A. and others subsequently took down their posts. Heatwave also removed the relevant segment from their website.
T.A. contacted The Phoenix News on October 4 to say she now thinks her friend was lying about the assault.
The student insists that she was telling the truth. She told The Phoenix she is upset her friend has turned against her and claimed that she had not approved all the posts made on her behalf. She claimed that T.A. altered some of her statement before reading it for Heatwave. She also noted that one of the posted accusations – that the alleged assailant was using a forged death certificate to shut down the friend’s Instagram account – was not proven.
The student says she is being harassed by T.A. and friends through Instagram, who all accuse her of lying.
“I have received a physical threat from [T.A.]… as well as threats from people asking that I be expelled from school. My social media accounts have been targeted in unfounded...rants about false accusation,” she states. “I have been in contact with the SVPRO every step of the way in finding ways to keep me safe, but it doesn’t make the matter any easier.”
The Phoenix has chosen to withhold the names of both the accused and the accuser.
The Phoenix News would like to point any victims of sexual assault towards the SVPRO for support. Phone: 2508079640 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org