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Thursday, November 6th, 2014
Reporting sexual assault understandably traumatic
Charges of sexual assault in Medicine Hat have been hovering around 75 annually for the last three years. But with less than 10 per cent of sexual assaults being reported, according to the Medicine Hat Sexual Assault Response Committee, that number is far from an accurate reflection of the issue.

“It’s an issue everywhere,” said Christina Johnson, SARC regional co-ordinator.

“There is about an eight per cent reporting rate of sexual violence.”

Johnson said the stigma associated with reporting sexual assaults is one of several reasons people are hesitant to come forward, adding, “we have a culture of blaming the victim.”

And it’s not necessarily the police and court process which pose the biggest obstacle.

“Right in the moment, they are worried about whether they are going to be believed or not. That is by everyone and society in general.”

But Johnson said there is no time limit for which sexual assault can’t result in charges or prosecutions.

“That’s important because it takes time to make those decisions,” said Johnson.

But she added the biggest thing society can do for victims of sexual assault, “is believing.”

“We know that two per cent of sexual assaults that are reported are false and there is a difference in an accusation being false and not provable … So I always start by believing people who come forward.”

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Comments:
Tuesday, January 6th, 2015
Comment By: Arlyne Page
Given a personal experience my step-daughter came to me about being raped and molested by my Lieutenant who she began babysitting for when she was 12. This was a person of power who my husband, who was the chief of police at the time, trusted. We had no idea that he would do that to our little girl who had been sexually molested by her grandfather, making her an even easier target. The molestation continued until she was 15. He would promise her things, even teaching her how to drive, using a squad car. It took her 20 years to tell anyone what had happened. The lieutenant retained his position throughout the investigation and the court process but was eventually moved to another office owned by the city. The entire probable cause affidavit was published in the newspaper and by clerical error the victim's name was posted on Missouri Case Net. It took three years to prosecute this person after the arrest and he continued to collect a paycheck. It is extremely traumatic for the victim to go to court time and time again waiting to tell her story just to be told that the case was continued again. I could go on and on but HR personnel as well as the City Powers to be had absolutely no feelings for the victim or the victim's family, going so far as to try and convince officers that they needed to visit the suspect because they needed to show their support. It has been nearly a year since he was finally terminated, not because of the conviction, but because the case was taking to long to adjudicate he couldn't be effective in his position. He remained post licensed as a Missouri Police Officer for nearly six months after his termination.
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