Concordia student files ethics complaint against five Montreal police officers
MONTREAL -- A PhD student at Concordia University has filed two ethics complaints against five Montreal police (SPVM) officers.
According to the Centre for Research-Action on Race Relations (CRARR) – who is assisting the student with the complaints process – she felt repeatedly dismissed by SPVM officers while filing a complaint against a man who had harassed her on campus.
The events took place in October and November of 2019 and the last straw for the student was a physical confrontation between her and the man.
The CRARR said that when the student was filing the complaint, she was asked to provide a description of the attacker. When she did, an SPVM officer allegedly replied “Sounds like a good-looking man, why don’t you go out with him?”
“I don’t know what’s more heinous, the fact that the supervising officer did not take my case seriously, or the fact that he suggested I go on a date with my attacker,” the student told the CRARR.
After completing the report, the student said she asked the officer for an escort home, to which he allegedly replied “Is he (the attacker) there now?” and later, “Don’t you have any friends?”
The student said she explained that she’s from out of town and doesn’t have a support system in the city, but was still denied an escort home.
“I was shocked at this callous and offensive conduct,” the student told the CRARR. “If this is the way Montreal police officers treat women, especially Anglophones, when they report sexual violence, we should all worry. 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.”
The CRARR said that several days later, the student called the police when she came home to an open apartment door, and after waiting for officers to arrive for more than an hour, she felt they dismissed her once again. The officers asked the student to fill out another report, and she said she heard one of them say: “It’s not that serious, just a bit of anxiety.” She was told to follow up at the downtown station.
A while later, the student discovered her attacker’s history of sexual assault online.
“It hit me at that moment that the police had a record on him and yet still did nothing to protect me or even inform me of his record,” she told the CRARR.
She called the downtown station, hoping they would send someone back to her apartment, but was told to wait until a detective followed up with her case.
The CRARR says the student tried to follow up with the police multiple times – four in person, once over the phone and once via email. She said an officer once called her back to follow up, asked what had happened – and when she told him, he allegedly swore at her in French and hung up.
That’s when the student decided to file two complaints with the Police Ethics Commissioner. The lack of support she received motivated her to contact the CRARR for assistance.
“The police officers’ practices and conduct are troubling. Some could be qualified as a form of systemic discrimination based on gender,” said CRARR executive director Fo Niemi. “We need to remove these systemic barriers to justice for victims of sexual violence.”
The alleged attacker appeared in court in November, the CRARR said, and was released under conditions that are protected by a publication ban.
When contacted by CTV News, the SPVM said it is not able to comment on the complaints at this time.