False sex assault report handled well by RNC, group says

Connie Pike, with the Coalition Against Violence, says the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary handled a false complaint of sexual assault near the Fluvarium in St. John's very well.
Reporting sexual assault complaints to public sparks debate. Azzo Rezori reports 1:46

The Coalition Against Violence is commending the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary for its handling of a false complaint of sexual assault near the Fluvarium in St. John's.

Police sent out an alert about a male suspect in connection with the alleged assault after a woman reported the incident last weekend.

However, RNC Const. Steve Curnew said Wednesday that investigating officers determined the assault never happened.

Coalition spokesperson Connie Pike said police acted accordingly, given the situation.

"In the first while, when a complaint is made, you have to treat it as legitimate, so I think it was wise for the alert to go out. Once they got into the investigation and could see that there were some things not adding up, again they took the right course of action," Pike said.

"And I really don't want the public to become cynical. It's too important to just say, 'Well, everyone's the same.'"

Pike said only about two or three per cent of sexual assault reports turn out to be false.

"As we know in this business, most of the complaints — the vast majority, high into the 90 per cent range — are legitimate complaints."

Pike said false reports are complex, adding she doesn't know what drives people to make them.

"I don't think it's planned. It's impulsive, and we really don't know what's going on in their personal lives."

However, she said it's important to remember that the work still needs to be done to ensure a report is accurate.

"Indeed it is frustrating to all the organizations involved, including the police. But I certainly believe that they took the correct route," Pike said.

"I think they did a good job in talking about the issue, and claiming that it's better to have a false report than a real report, and there's a lot to be said for that."