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Kelowna  

UBCO student says Mountie urged her to consider the impact criminal charges would have on her voyeur

Victim felt under pressure

A Kelowna woman says she is relieved that RCMP moved forward with an investigation following a disturbing incident at the University of British Columbia's Okanagan campus last spring.

The woman, who has asked to remain anonymous, says she was filmed under a bathroom door on campus in March 2020. Castanet originally spoke to the woman in August 2020 about her concerns with how the police were handling the case, but at the time, police advised her against speaking to the media and she decided against proceeding with a story. Now that the file is in the hands of prosecutors, she is telling her story.

The woman says the incident happened inside a gender-neutral washroom on the first floor of the Commons building.

The following quotes are directly from the statement the victim made to UBCO.

"While using the washroom, I looked to the bottom right corner of the stall and noticed a phone camera pointed at me, which someone was holding underneath the stall divider from the stall next to me. I loudly said, 'what the f**k' and the camera was immediately lifted. I walked out of my stall and knocked on the door. Approximately 3-4 minutes later a young male exited the stall. The individual said words to the effect that there was nothing on his phone."

She took the man's phone and went through it looking for pictures but found nothing and left feeling confused.

"Later that day, I knew there was no mistaking what I saw and chose to report the incident" to the campus Sexual Violence and Prevention Office, she said.

She says she saw the voyeur later that week and called campus security.

"Security spoke to him and he admitted to being present during the incident and the police were called and brought to campus. I provided a statement to police and was told the (suspect) individual gave a full confession during his statement. The police officer also told me this was not this individual's first time doing something like this."

Victim felt placed under pressure

The victim says she wanted to proceed with charges at the time, but the original investigating officer, Const. Ryan Routley urged her to consider how the charges would impact the suspect; a young male engineering student with a girlfriend. This was in the middle of March, shortly after the incident.

"When someone fully confesses to a sex crime and admits to doing it to ... other individuals, you can’t help but wonder why immediate action isn’t taken, and why it’s left entirely in the victim's hands to determine if this person faces any repercussions at all?" the victim said.

Months later in May 2020, the victim says she received a phone call from a female RCMP officer, Cpl. Tania Carroll, "she asked why I wasn't proceeding with charges?"

"I was very vulnerable at that point and I was looking for guidance," the victim told Castanet, explaining that after her conversation with Cpl. Carroll, she decided to move ahead with charges.

When contacted by Castanet last summer, UBCO would not comment.

"In instances where the alleged conduct is of a criminal nature, the criminal (police/RCMP) process should continue unencumbered, given the higher legal standard of proof required by a criminal investigation process," said Nathan Skolski associate director, public affairs with UBCO.

Castanet also reached out to RCMP last August and did not receive a response. However, we did receive an email from the victim indicating that after Castanet reached out to RCMP and started inquiries into the incident, she had received a call back from police.

"I did feel like the (first officer) felt more empathy towards the perpetrator rather than me and that is an issue," she said Tuesday.

Once she had an opportunity to speak to the officers, she was advised that speaking to the media might jeopardize the case. "They (RCMP) didn't want it to seem like I wasn't on their side in any way."

But as the CBC reported Monday, police have now forwarded the file to prosecutors, leading the woman to tell her story.

"Maybe to shed some light on the fact that we do need some more training with RCMP and maybe they should be sending people out who are better equipped for the job," the victim told Castanet this week.

In a statement Tuesday, the Kelowna RCMP said the file has been handed over to provincial prosecutors.

"The investigative file is well documented and includes all electronic correspondence, statements and the investigative steps taken throughout. Should charges be approved everything would be subject to disclosure."

The Kelowna RCMP says the investigation was managed by its sex crimes unit and, "our officers continue to work with the victim, in order to ensure she has any and all supports necessary, as these criminal investigations and in turn the judicial system can be complex to navigate."



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