Northlands sued 10 years after alleged sex assault on K-Days grounds left teen in hospital
Complainant, who was 13 at the time, was found half-clothed in a ditch. Charges were never laid
An Alberta woman who says she was raped and left in a ditch on the K-Days grounds when she was 13 years old is suing Northlands, and alleges the Edmonton Police Service failed to properly investigate her case.
The woman, who CBC is referring to as Jessica to protect her identity, went with a friend to the summer carnival, known at the time as Capital Ex, on July 19, 2008, according to the statement of claim. The girls were standing at an entrance near a ticket booth when a man waved them over.
He introduced himself as Phoenix and said he was from Winnipeg. He told Jessica she was pretty, she said, and asked the girls to meet him once he finished work. At around 11 p.m., the trio went to a liquor store and he bought a 750-ml bottle of vodka.
They returned to the midway. After talking to a security guard, they went inside a semi-truck and started drinking. Jessica said she soon started to feel sick, so she went into the back of the semi-truck to lie down.
"I felt like I was spinning," she told CBC News this week. "I was looking at the ceiling. I think I was going from passing out to waking up. I remember him climbing on top of me and moving back and forth. That's all I really remember, is looking at the ceiling and I was moving back and forth."
Jessica was found just before 3 a.m., lying in a ditch on the property. She was unconscious, she said, her skirt pulled up to her stomach, and she wasn't wearing underwear. Her friend was leaning against a tree nearby.
"I woke up in the hospital with tubes in my throat, and they were pumping my stomach," Jessica said.
It affects me to this day. For the longest time, I tried to pretend nothing happened, just to be able to deal with it.- Jessica
She was diagnosed with alcohol poisoning and doctors found evidence she had been sexually assaulted, according to the statement of claim. A rape kit was done and Jessica said she was referred to the Zebra Child Protection Centre, where a detective interviewed her.
Jessica said she wanted her alleged assailant to face charges, so she told the detective everything she remembered. But she said she felt dismissed by the police officer.
"At the time, I didn't understand everything like an adult would. I wasn't expecting him to hug me or something, but at least a little bit of empathy, and I didn't get that at all from that cop."
Lawsuit seeks $100,000
Jessica is now 23 years old. In January, she filed a $100,000 lawsuit in Court of Queens Bench of Alberta against Northlands, North American Midway Entertainment-Canada Co. — the company that produced the midway — and John Doe, her alleged attacker.
Representatives for both Northlands and North American Midway Entertainment declined to comment on ongoing litigation. Statements of defence have not been filed in court.
Jessica never learned the real name of her attacker and said though she was told police had interviewed him, charges were never laid.
The past 10 years have been difficult for her, with flashbacks, anxiety, depression and PTSD, the statement of claim said.
After the assault, Jessica said, she ran away and became involved in child sex work, drugs and gangs.
In January, Jessica said she met with an EPS officer to learn more about how her case had been investigated, and whether charges could still be laid. She was told charges were never laid because there wasn't enough evidence. She said the police officer told her she was unco-operative with the investigation when she was 13, which she denied.
She left feeling dismissed once again.
In an emailed statement, the Edmonton Police Service confirmed that charges were not laid because of "insufficient evidence" and the case was closed. EPS said details of the investigation were discussed with Jessica in October 2017, and she was referred to victims services.
"EPS takes reports of sexual assault very seriously, and it is not uncommon for police to review historic files to determine if there are any new investigative avenues that can be explored," the statement said.
"A detective from Zebra Child Protection Section has been assigned to reach out to the complainant to further discuss the file with her."
Jessica's lawyer, Avnish Nanda, said without charges ever being laid against her attacker, filing a civil lawsuit was the only option for his client to seek the restitution she needs to move on with her life.
Nanda said he doesn't believe the argument that there wasn't enough evidence to lay a charge.
"I know that there are criminal provisions around supplying minors with alcohol. I don't buy their excuse as to not investigating this thoroughly," he said.
"A 13-year-old child was sexually assaulted, found in a ditch after the sexual assault, alcohol poisoning, missing clothing, trauma to her body. I just don't understand why the EPS would take this position.
"It's extremely disappointing for both my client and anyone who believes in the rights of survivors of sexual assault."
It's extremely disappointing for both my client and anyone who believes in the rights of survivors of sexual assault.- Avnish Nanda, Jessica's lawyer
Jessica is now considering filing an information request with EPS to access her file, so she can understand why charges were never laid. Along with the civil lawsuit, she said she hopes this provides some closure to the trauma that has continued to haunt her adult life.
"It affects me to this day," she said. "For the longest time, I tried to pretend nothing happened, just to be able to deal with it.
"If I can at least try to do something about it, anything, just so I can say I tried, then maybe it will help me forget about it."