Okay, this is a bit of a triggering issue right now.
Allegations of sexual misconduct and assault are taken far more seriously than they have been in the past, and for good reason. It seems every week there are new stories around these topics. They're important to talk about.
A massage therapist out of Montreal's West Island has been telling her story recently, and it paints a very sobering picture. Not of the topic, per say, but an unflattering view of Montreal's SPVM.
Claudia Cavaliere, who is 20 years old and fresh out of school, is a massage therapist at a spa on St-Charles Blvd.
Last month, Cavaliere had an encounter at her job that left the young massage therapist in shock.
Cavaliere found herself in a situation where a middle-aged man started to grind his pelvis against the table as she worked on his lower leg. He then turned over, and proceeded to masturbate directly in-front of her, clearly expecting some reciprocation as part of his "appointment."
He even asked the massage therapist for tissue, which was the only words he said.
This is maybe a little more common than it should be. "Happy ending" massage parlors are nothing new, but that does not mean this type of incident is, or should ever be acceptable. This is an obvious violation.
The real sobering side to all of this is not the incident, itself, but rather how it was handled by a Montreal Police Officer... which unfortunately is something I feel from many officers here, in many ways.
As Cavaliere attempted to file a complaint with an officer, she was dissuaded by the officer to make any report or claim. The police officer, who has not been named, told the 20-year-old employee that she would "need to appear in court" and asked if this is something she really wanted to do.
He went on to advise her it is next to impossible to find the man, that there would be no investigation, and that this should be expected as "part of the business."
Part of the business? As a massage therapist? Now, I know those massage parlors are not out of the ordinary, but I think that is rather dismissive to tell a young lady in her chosen career path to expect this.
The Montreal police officer went on to tell her that this would not be considered a sexual offense, because the man did not touch her or asked to be touched. That no "harsh punishment" would be given, and that a fine of $500 is all that could happen.
Well, this officer is clearly ignorant to his own line of work, let alone hers, because there is a law in Quebec, and Canada, regarding "Indecent Exposure" that is defined by a few terms resulting in jail time between 6 months to 2 years.
Now, there are terms to this law and I'm no expert myself, but the point remains that the carelessness of this officer and severe lack of sensitivity is a gross mishandling of the issue faced by Cavaliere.
In fact, it was handled so poorly that Cavaliere decided to begin recording the conversation with the SPVM officer on her phone. She left the police department questioning whether her claims had legitimate merit or not.
This is the exact issue women (and anybody) will face when trying to report an incident that was a clear violation. They get discouraged from speaking up.
Cavaliere is a brave individual, and she filed a complaint anyways - to which I, and many others, applaud her for.
Montreal's SPVM inspector Ian Lafrenière has said that interactions such as this do not look good for the police for - and he is absolutely right.
We are police officers, and we make mistakes. When we hear things like that we do not try to cover it up. We don't try to say it is correct. This is completely wrong. -Ian Lafrenière
This issue is something that speaks volumes about the sensitivity and willingness of the police force in Montreal, and how they need to put in efforts to rebuild their relationships with Montreal locals.