A former University of Ottawa student who told her story publicly last fall because she didn't feel police took her complaint of sexual assault seriously is feeling "torn" now that charges have finally been laid in her case because he won't be arrested unless he returns to Canada.
- Woman says Ottawa police told her sexual assault was 'misunderstanding'
- Less victim blaming could improve Ottawa police response to violence against women: study
- Ottawa partner assault unit responds to report calling for less victim blaming
The man, who returned to his home in Lebanon after a studying as an international student at the University of Ottawa, has been charged in absentia and his lawyer has been told he will be arrested if he returns to Canada.
Melodie Morin said she received a call from police about the charge on Christmas Eve — three months after she reported she was sexually assaulted.
"That was one of the best Christmas presents I had," she said. "It helped me feel safer."
Still, she is "extremely mad" that the charges only came after the accused left the country.
"I'm torn between being happy or being mad about this situation. I'm happy in the sense that I feel safe now, I know that either way I am going to be safe," she said.
"But in another sense I'm extremely mad ... that they couldn't make sure that he wouldn't leave the country. ... He might get away with it, so to me that is not justice."
Told sexual assault was 'misunderstanding'
Morin first told her story to CBC News in November, after she said the lead detective in her cased called to tell her that no charges would be laid because the sexual assault was a "misunderstanding."
'Should we have to yell to even get acknowledged? Because that's what I had to do.' - Melodie Morin
Morin said the man attacked her in his bedroom during a party at his home in the early hours of Sept. 25.
She said he raped her, choked her and spit on her. She filed a police report that same day, including a rape kit and documentation of her injuries — but the case was closed after the man told police he thought the sex was consensual.
"I finally understood the reason most women won't speak up. It's because they're being treated by the police in a horrible manner," she said at the time.
"Everybody is telling me to speak up. Everybody is telling women to speak up. But should we have to yell to even get acknowledged? Because that's what I had to do."
A University of Ottawa study released last fall found that only 44 per cent of women who reported a sexual assault to Ottawa police felt the first officer believed her and just 37 per cent found that the officer was considerate of her feelings and opinions.
Morin wants detective to 'acknowledge mistake'
Morin, who was a first-year music student, said she left her program after consulting with doctors because of ongoing stress related to her sexual assault.
After sharing her story with CBC News, Ottawa police told Morin the case would be reviewed by supervisors, as a standard practice, and that the investigator's conclusion may "have been premature."
The detective was scheduled to be transferred to another department, and Morin's case was one of her last.
Morin's case was transferred to a different investigator, and charges were eventually laid.
Morin said she has not spoken to the first detective since her case was transferred.
"In a sense, I don't want to talk to her but in another sense, I think it would be the mature thing to say sorry after what she's done," Morin said. "I think she should at least acknowledge that she made a mistake and that it shouldn't be repeated."