Donna Reid to sit on task force on 'unfounded' sexual assault cases

Cambridge city councillor Donna Reid, invited to be part of Waterloo Regional Police 'unfounded' task force has worked in the area of violence against women.

'I hate that word,' says Donna Reid about the term, 'unfounded'

Cambridge city councillor Donna Reid received one of over 20 invitations to be on the Waterloo Regional Police Task force to discuss 'unfounded' sexual assault cases. The first meeting takes place Tuesday April 25. (City of Cambridge)

Cambridge counsellor Donna Reid has been officially confirmed as a member of Waterloo Regional Police Task Force on sexual assault. 

Reid is a retired teacher, a board member and past president of the Cambridge Women's Crisis Shelter as well as at Haven House – a shelter for women and children fleeing abusive homes in Cambridge. 

The task force has been set up in the wake of a national Globe and Mail investigation into the number of sexual assault allegations police dismiss as "unfounded" is 27 per cent locally, compared to a national average of 17 per cent.

Reid said she was surprised to hear the number of "unfounded" sexual assault cases in Waterloo Region was so high and hopes her time on a police task force will eventually lead women to feel more comfortable to come forward and report they have been assaulted.

Stop saying 'unfounded'

"If we can make the system more friendly to women who are suffering from assaults then to me that would be a success," said Reid. "We would be able to then deal with the problem. Now we're just kind of letting it go."

The Waterloo Regional Police task force will meet for the first time Tuesday April 25, in the first of a series of meetings to discuss the number of "unfounded" cases reported in the region.

Reid says one of the first things she'd like to see, is and end to the use of the word "unfounded" to describe cases where a police officer doesn't believe a crime was attempted or occurred

"It says that women are lying and puts the onus on the woman as a witness, than pm a man as the perpetrator."

Four task force members confirmed

Waterloo Regional Police told CBC News it sent out over 20 invitations to people in various organizations including the Sexual Assault Treatment Centre, Family and Children's Services, both local school boards, the post-secondary institutions and the Crown attorney's office.

The official list of exactly who will be on the task force is not yet public, but the following people have been confirmed by CBC Kitchener-Waterloo as members of the task force:

  • Peter Ringrose, board  member of the Waterloo Region Police Services Board.
  • Sara Casselman, executive director, Sexual Assault Support Centre of Waterloo Region.
  • Lynsey Butcher, co-chair of the Sex Worker Action Network.
  • Donna Reid, Cambridge city councillor. 

 The first meeting will determine the focus the group will take for future meetings, which will most likely include the public.