Dozens of girls allegedly touched inappropriately at 2018 B.C. Summer Games dance
RCMP investigating around 30 complaints of inappropriate touching
The B.C. Games Society says it has received around 30 complaints from girls who say they were touched inappropriately by boys at a dance for athletes during the 2018 B.C. Summer Games in the Cowichan Valley.
On Saturday, about 1,500 youth were at the Cowichan Exhibition Park for a special event and dance, according to Kelly Mann, president and CEO of the B.C. Games Society.
"While the dance was on in front of the DJ area, we understand that some girls were inappropriately touched by males. Once that happened, girls started to come out from the dance and explain what was going on," Mann said.
"It was at that time that then the volunteers, the security people and coaches began to react to the situation."
After that, Mann said the youth started to disperse and the dance ended. The average age of those at the dance was about 14, he noted.
"I think sort of the air was out of the room by that point," he said.
RCMP investigating complaints
Mann said organizers contacted the RCMP in the days following the dance.
North Cowichan/ Duncan RCMP confirmed they have opened a file concerning the incidents, and are working closely with the B.C. Games Society.
"The concern immediately is, and has continued to be, the care and comfort of those young women who've had the courage to come forward, so we've been dealing with them, and taking stories, and that sort of thing," Mann said.
He says the B.C. Games Society has been speaking with athletes' families to communicate what the organization is doing.
"It's important for us to take care of the steps that we need to do over these next several days, but more importantly make sure that this type of behaviour is clearly understood to not be acceptable, and that it won't be tolerated," he said.
'The stupidity of a few idiots'
Mann said he's looking at this event as a teachable moment to reinforce codes of conduct.
"We want our organization to be known as an environment where athletes can develop not only as athletes, but as young people and future adults. But that it's a place where they feel secure and safe, and our policies and practices to this date have encouraged and upheld that," he said.
After 26 years with the B.C. Games, Mann said he has never seen behaviour like this.
"Two years in planning, four days of excellent execution of putting on an 18-sport … event for 3,100 participants, by 2,500 giving volunteers. I won't let this incident, and the stupidity of a few idiots define this community. I won't."
With files from Dan Burritt