A teenage girl who was gang raped in an attack that was photographed and posted on the internet spoke out for the first time Thursday through a statement released by the B.C. RCMP.
Police allege a 16-year-old girl was raped by several people at a rave in Pitt Meadows, east of Vancouver, in September 2010. Cellphone photos were taken of the incident and posted to Facebook.
Colton Ashton McMorris, 18, was charged this week with sexual assault in connection with the incident. Dennis John Allen Warrington, 19, faces one charge of production of child pornography and one count of distribution of child pornography.
A third person, a 16-year-old boy, had already been charged a few days after the incident with production and distribution of child pornography.
At a news conference on Thursday, RCMP Sgt. Peter Thiessen read a statement from the victim.
"Thank you to everyone who has been there to help me through this terrible ordeal," it read.
"But to the people who did not support me, who called me names, who spread lies about me — thank you because you made me much stronger than I've ever been before."
The girl's family also released a statement, thanking the police for their efforts in the case and friends and family for their support.
"We are pleased to hear of Crown approving charges against these men," the statement read. "There has never been any doubt in our minds that our daughter was sexually assaulted. This news just reinforces what we already knew. We can only hope justice will be served and people will see that this is not acceptable behaviour in our society."
The family said their daughter was bullied after the attack and was forced to leave school.
"Hopefully, these charges will help to prevent any more attacks on her character," the statement read.
'Code of silence'
Meanwhile, Thiessen said police believe others were involved in the incident but lack the evidence to lay charges.
"There are individuals out there that we feel played a significant role in this,' Thiessen said. "They know who they are. We have spoken to those individuals. They do have an opportunity to clear themselves if they choose to. They have not chosen to.
"There is still a code of silence. That has not changed. There is information out there that individuals hold that we need to move forward so we can gather the evidence to put before Crown to support charges against other individuals."
Thiessen insisted the case is not closed.
"Over the next while, investigators will continue to do their jobs, to do what the community expects them to do, and try to bring others to justice that we feel played a role in this sexual assault," he said.
Thiessen said additional details could not be released because the case is before the courts, but he condemned the attack and the distribution of the photos online.
"When we began this investigation, we made a point of speaking out strongly against what had happened to this young, 16-year-old victim," Thiessen said. "We and many others in this community were outraged by the distribution of photos through online social media, photos that continually re-victimized this poor young girl.
"We hope that the family and community can have some measure of closure now that the charges against these … individuals have been laid."
Both McMorris and Warrington made initial court appearances on Tuesday in Port Coquitlam. Both were released with a promise to appear under several conditions and are scheduled to appear in Port Coquitlam provincial court on Jan. 12.