Kelowna mayor apologizes for initial reaction to sexual assault statistics

Kelowna mayor apologizes for initial reaction to sexual assault statistics

The mayor issued the statement after he came under heavy fire from a sexual assault survivor

Kelowna Mayor Colin Basran has apologized for comments he made earlier this week that he fully supported the RCMP after Statistics Canada revealed an alarming number of sexual assaults were deemed “unfounded” by the city’s police force.

In a statement issued Friday morning, he said he was sorry for offending anyone who may have been hurt by his initial reaction to the news that nearly 40 per cent of sexual assault reports in 2018 were deemed “unfounded” by the RCMP.

“I am sorry and offer my sincere apology to anyone offended or hurt by my initial reaction to this news,” wrote Basran.

“The number of local sex assault complaints deemed to be unfounded is deeply concerning and I know the local detachment is taking this matter seriously. In retrospect, I should have waited for the results of an investigation into the matter before expressing my opinion.”

READ MORE: ‘City that protects rapists’: Sexual assault survivor slams Kelowna mayor for defending RCMP

READ MORE: ‘Steeped in rape culture’: Sexual assault survivor speaks out against Kelowna RCMP

The mayor issued the statement after he came under heavy fire from a sexual assault survivor who said the RCMP dismissed her claim that she was allegedly gang raped when she was 15 years old.

In response to the mayor’s initial comments, where he said he had full confidence the RCMP was taking the matter seriously, Heather Friesen, staged her own one-person protest in front of city hall on Thursday morning (Nov. 14).

During her protest, she left fliers on vehicles around city hall which called out the mayor for being a “man who protects rapists because he won’t call out the RCMP.”

Friesen was not immediately available to respond to the mayor’s latest comments.

In his statement issued Friday morning, Basran said that while the RCMP operates independently, it is the city’s responsibility to ensure matters concerning citizens are being addressed. He has also directed staff to stay in close contact with the RCMP on the issue until a review is completed.

“I support what the Kelowna RCMP has done in response to this new information from Statistics Canada – starting with an internal review and a subsequent request to have the RCMP’s Sexual Assault Review Team at national headquarters review the 2018 and 2019 files. That review will determine RCMP next steps,” wrote Basran.

“It’s my understanding that the RCMP will report out once the investigation is complete and I’ll wait until that happens before commenting further.”

READ MORE: Forty per cent of sexual assaults in Kelowna deemed ‘unfounded’ in 2018

READ MORE: Elizabeth Fry Society launches #SPEAKOUT campaign in Kelowna


Paul Clarke
Assistant bureau chief, B.C. Interior South Division
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