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A Local Student Is Accusing 5 SPVM Officers Of Not Taking Her Harassment Reports Seriously

"If this is the way Montreal police officers treat women ... when they report sexual violence, we should all worry."
A Local Student Is Accusing 5 SPVM Officers Of Not Taking Her Harassment Reports Seriously

Due to their for their alleged misconduct in handling her harassment case late last year, a Concordia PhD student is filing two ethical complaints against five Montreal police officers.

Anna, which is the name being used in the official release and not her real name, went to the SPVM following months of harassment by a man, who she said made her feel unsafe. She claims that the officers involved ignored her, laughed at her and refused to offer her support.

She is now working with the Centre for Research-Action on Race Relations (CRARR) to file her complaints.

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The incident took place at Concordia's downtown campus

According to a release, Anna was harassed by the man from October to November 2019 on the downtown Concordia Campus. Following a physical altercation and fearing for her safety, she decided to go to Station 20 near the campus to file an official harassment claim.

While there, "she was asked to fill out the required
paperwork from behind a glass screen, which she felt was dehumanizing."

When asked to describe the attacker to the two officers, the supervising officer apparently replied, "Sounds like a good-looking man, why don’t you go out with him?" and laughed.

"Why don’t you go on a date with him," Anna replied in shock.

Anna then asked for an escort home, which the officers denied. Following a phone call a few days later when Anna discovered her apartment door was opened, shes says two more officers downplayed her concerns and told her to go back to Station 20 to file another complaint.

She discovered that the attacker had a history of sexual assault and that the officers failed to inform her of his record.

Trying once more, she called and asked for an officer to be sent to her apartment. They refused and said a detective would be in touch. 

The victim followed up on the initial complaint nine separate times

Anna followed up on her initial complaint to Station 20 on nine occasions — four times in person, one phone call and one email. None of these attempts were successful.

A supervisor from the station did call her to inquire about the incident. After she recounted her experience, he swore at her in French ("tabarnak") and immediately ended the call.

There was allegedly no follow-up.

Completely frustrated and fearing for her physical and mental well-being, Anna went to a lawyer who advised her to go the Police Operations Center on rue Guy.

She refused to leave until a detective opened her case.

The CRARR is helping her file ethical complaints

Anna filed two complaints with the Police Ethics Commissioner.

One case was sent to investigation and the other to conciliation.

Feeling utterly disheartened by the lack of police response and support, she turned to the CRARR for help.

"If this is the way Montreal police officers treat women, especially Anglophones, when they report sexual violence, we should all worry," Anna said in the release. 

"Just think of the number of English-speaking students in Montreal. My experience of reporting neither encourages a safe place to report nor a place where non-French speakers are welcome."

"We're months away from 2021, and it's unconscionable that women who are victims and survivors of sexual violence in this city still have to fight to be taken seriously by the police," Fo Niemi, Executive Director, CRARR told MTL Blog.

"The right to equal protection of the law is a constitutional right, and we have to ensure that this right is upheld for women like Anna." 

The SPVM has not yet responded to MTL Blog's requests for a comment.

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