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BC Mounties face new abuse allegations

By Michael Mui, 24 Hours Vancouver

Georgia I., speaking under a pseudonym, claims in the report she was raped nearly four decades ago, after a police officer allegedly offered her a ride home.  (Samer Muscati, Human Rights Watch)

Georgia I., speaking under a pseudonym, claims in the report she was raped nearly four decades ago, after a police officer allegedly offered her a ride home. (Samer Muscati, Human Rights Watch)

The only apparent victim who doesn’t use a pseudonym in a damning Human Rights Watch report given to RCMP Tuesday — with claims of discrimination, sexual and physical abuse — has sued Mounties alleging she was “forcibly stripped” and sexually assaulted in a basement in front of police.

None of the allegations have been proven in court. RCMP Chief Supt. Janice Armstrong wasn’t immediately available for comment on the specific case, but said early Wednesday police have yet to fully review the claims, many of which haven’t been investigated by police or outside agencies.

Prince George mother-of-six Jennifer Alexander, in her notice of civil claim filed last year, says she was taken from her sister’s home and forcibly confined, repeatedly punched and kicked, threatened with death and sexually assaulted in the presence of 11 Mounties on Aug. 28, 2010.

“In the course of the prolonged assault … the plaintiff cried out and begged for her life for the sake of herself and her children,” the civil claim notes.

“To the certain knowledge of each of the defendants, the plaintiff was terrified, physically hurt and humiliated beyond measure.”

Her lawyer said Wednesday Alexander had yet to read the HRW report.

Meghan Rhoad was one of two investigators sent by HRW, an international human rights organization, to examine the “failure of law enforcement” to deal with cases of missing and murdered women along the infamous Highway of Tears in central and northern B.C.

The group spent five weeks in July and August last year travelling through 10 towns, interviewing 42 women, eight girls, and a number of police officers and community service workers. Many alleged victims gave accounts of recent and historical accounts of abuse and discrimination.

Only one woman, Alexander, is identified by her real name, Rhoad said. Another woman, Georgia I., said in the report she’s yet to receive justice for a rape nearly 40 years ago.

“When I was 16, I was raped by a police officer and became pregnant. I got an abortion,” the woman wrote, adding her alleged rapist is still on the force.

“I was working for a police officer who had a pizza joint. Some of his young officers would come in to eat and one night offered me a ride home. That was the first time he raped me.”

Sharon McIvor, a lawyer and co-founder of the Canadian Feminist Alliance for International Action, suspects the allegations in the report still doesn’t capture the full spectrum of abuses.

She helped introduce the HRW investigators to the northern community and set up interviews.

“For every 10 (women) we were pointed out, we might have gotten one. The rest were not interested, they were too scared,” she said.

Supt. Armstrong said anyone who felt victimized shouldn’t fear retaliation and called for victims to come forward, either through First Nations representatives or directly to police.

“It’s not fair to the victims that that information was not investigated,” she said. “It’s not fair to the RCMP to have those allegations hanging out there.”

Armstrong also pointed to a September, 2011 case where a 17-year-old girl was badly beaten while handcuffed in a police car. The officer, Const. Andy Yung, is now in court for an assault charge.

She added Mounties aren’t planning to launch a “large scale inquiry” into the allegations, despite stressing that it takes the claims “very seriously.” Mounties are also meeting with the HRW on Friday.


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