News

Northwest Territories Police Took a 13-Year-Old Sexual Assault Victim to Jail

In ruling, judge says girl wasn't taken to hospital or offered any support.
March 30, 2016, 4:08pm

Outside Yellowknife Court House. Photo by Cory Punter

A Northwest Territories court case has put a critical spotlight on how RCMP handled a 13-year-old girl's sexual assault complaint in 2014. Instead of taking the girl to a hospital or contacting victim services, cops locked her up in a jail cell overnight.

The ongoing trial centres around 31-year-old Alberta man Cody Durocher, who was convicted of sexual assaulting the girl in Hay River, NWT last month. It was the man's third sexual assault conviction. Prosecutors are now pushing to have him declared a dangerous offender.

Police went to check on the teen the evening of January 11, 2014 to see if she was following conditions of her parole. When they found her outside her home past curfew, she was arrested. The teen victim told police about the assault, but they proceeded to lock her up until the following evening anyway. Officers said she was intoxicated and emotional when they found her.

Northwest Territories Supreme Court Justice Louise Charbonneau put it bluntly: "What happened after the [assault] disclosure was not that she was taken to a hospital to be examined or anywhere else where she might receive help," she told the courtroom. "What happened to her was she was put in a jail cell and, at 13 years old, she remained in that cell until the following evening, when the officer came back on night shift."

The court has heard more disturbing details about the case. The girl testified that she was invited over Durocher's home, where he tried to pour vodka down her throat. She said the guy also offered her hash oil and asked if she smoked crack.

When the girl tried to leave the apartment, the victim says Durocher slammed a door on her finger. A photo of her blackened fingernail was submitted as evidence.

A victim services worker with the Native Women's Association of the Northwest Territories in Yellowknife told VICE RCMP should refer assault complainants to victim services as well as child services when a minor is involved. The women's advocate said reporting assault takes courage, and survivors of it need their support.

Durocher is appealing the sexual assault conviction, in part based on incomplete cross-examination of the victim. Citing all the 13-year-old had been through, Justice Charbonneau said she probably wouldn't issue an arrest warrant to compel the girl to finish cross-examination.

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