Cases flagged by sexual assault task force won't be re-opened

Two files sent back to police after a review of unfounded sexual assault cases will not be re-opened, according to Waterloo region police Chief Bryan Larkin.

Police Chief Bryan Larkin says re-opening the old cases would retraumatize the victims

Waterloo region police Chief Bryan Larkin said lessons learned through the review have driven the report's recommendations. (Ed Middleton/CBC News )

Two files sent back to police after a review of unfounded sexual assault cases will not be re-opened, according to Waterloo region police Chief Bryan Larkin. 

Members of the sexual assault task force identified the two cases during a review of 78 sexual assault cases recorded as unfounded by Waterloo regional police. 

According to the review committee's final report, the two cases were brought to the attention of the special victims unit, because they caused reviewers "serious concerns."

Mistakes made in 2 cases

Larkin told reporters that "mid leaders" and "subject matter experts" took another look at the cases, and realized that mistakes had been made. 

  • In the first case, Larkin said the investigator did not take a trauma-informed approach when interviewing the victim and displayed a gender-based bias.  
  • In the second case, he said there was confusion around the definition of consent and the legal implications of consent. 

However, in both instances, police decided not to re-open the cases. 

"Because they were both dated cases in the sense of review, there was a belief that the victim/survivor would be retraumatized and impacted," Larkin said. 

"The lessons learned from that, though, drives the recommendations moving forward."

Recommendations accepted

He said police have accepted all of the recommendations made in the task force's final report, including the call for ongoing case reviews.

On Wednesday, Sara Casselman, executive director of the Sexual Assault Support Centre of Waterloo Region and co-chair of the review committee, said there are plans to review current sexual assault cases four times a year, starting in 2019.

That said, Larkin was clear that police would not do a more in-depth review of past sexual assault cases. 

"We obviously committed to this current review with our partners. So, we're looking forward and we're moving forward," he said. "We don't have any plans or intentions to review any other historical cases."