An 18-year-old woman who says she was drugged and raped in a motel in west Edmonton in mid-February found herself arrested and denied medical care. According to the CBC, the young woman believes she was drugged and does not recall the details of the assault; she woke up in a cell feeling “sore” and also “bleeding and missing a tooth.”
On Sunday, February 17th, the woman contacted her mother from the motel where, after a dispute with her boyfriend, “two men and a woman she had befriended invited her to make some phone calls in their hotel room and she was physically and sexually assaulted,” says the Edmonton Journal. The teenager told her mother she was not allowed to leave and that she had been raped. Her mother called 911 and police came to the motel.
On running a background check on the 18-year-old, police found that she was on a youth probation order for a previous charge and had not met the terms of her bail. Police arrested her and charged her as an adult for breaching the probation order. The teenager was held at the Edmonton Remand Center, where she was told doctors “were busy” and was not given any medication despite her face being swollen and bruised.
More than 48 hours then passed before the teenager was taken to a hospital where an examination showed that she had been sexually assaulted. At the hospital, the young woman was told to throw away her pants, which were bloody and an important piece of evidence. She was brought back to the remand center and not able to shower till Thursday “in part not to wash away any evidence of rape before the tests were done, in part because of conditions at the Remand,” says the Edmonton Journal. She was only released from the center on Friday, February 22, after the charges of breaching bail conditions were dropped.
The teenager was told that she could only file a report on being sexual assaulted after she was released from the center, says her lawyer, Parm Johal.
Police tell the CBC that they have opened an internal investigation into their handling of the case. Edmonton police contend that, in responding to the 911 call, the teenager did not inform them that she had been sexually assaulted; that paramedics that treated her at the scene and the officers responding reacted in an “appropriate” manner.
Johal objects, pointing out that the police should have been focusing on finding those who had allegedly raped the young woman. As she says in the Edmonton Journal:
“The message they’re sending out to victims of sexual assault is, ‘Don’t bother phoning the police if you’ve been sexually assaulted, if you have a warrant out for you or if you’re breaching your bail conditions because you know what’s going to happen to you? You’re going to be arrested as well.’”
The police and the remand center say the teenager was held for so long because a “new computer system called Orca wasn’t working properly and was losing people in the system.” What seems all too clear is that the justice system in Edmonton is not “working properly” and that people, including a young woman who was injured and allegedly raped, are being lost in that “system” and her rights overlooked and simply disregarded.
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