London

London constable botched sexual assault investigation: independent review

A London police constable didn't properly investigate a sexual assault report and made insensitive and inappropriate remarks to the complainant, an independent review has found. 

Dayna Hildebrandt reported a sexual assault in February 2019

Dayna Hildebrandt reported a sexual assault to London police in February 2019. She says the treatment she got made her feel re-victimized. (Kate Dubinski/CBC News)

A London police constable didn't properly investigate a sexual assault report and made insensitive and inappropriate remarks to the complainant, an independent review has found. 

Const. Jason Lange committed two kinds of misconduct: neglect of duty and disreputable conduct, concluded the Office of the Independent Police Review Director (OIPRD), a civilian body that investigates complaints against police officers. 

The officer also provided "misleading" information in his final report, which "may have prevented further appropriate investigation of (the) sexual assault allegation," 

It's now up to Chief Steve Williams to decide what kind of discipline or training, if any, is imposed on Lange, who is currently working as a school resource officer. 

"Speaking in general terms, my expectation is that any person coming forward with a complaint of sexual assault should be dealt with professionally, with respect and dignity. I demand this from all officers. There are no exceptions," Williams told CBC News. 

The complaint dates back to February 2019 and was made by Dayna Hildebrandt, a London woman who reported being sexually assaulted by an acquaintance three weeks prior to making the report. 

Hildebrandt said Lange was dismissive and told her she had numerous chances to say 'No.' Hildebrandt said she was too drunk to say no or to consent to any sexual encounter. Lange also asked Hildebrandt why she didn't tell the man to stop, and why she didn't call the police earlier. 

No training, no witness statements

"This was not a sexual assault," the officer concluded in his notes, which Hildebrandt obtained using a freedom of information request. "(Hildebrandt) got drunk, had sex, and then for some reason felt guilty and was influenced by friends to make her feel like a victim." 

The OIPRD report also found that Lange had no formal training in sexual assault complaints and didn't interview any of the people who were with Hildebrandt and her acquaintance the night of the assault. 

Sexual Assault case reviewed and validated by independent office

2 years ago
Duration 7:56
Last year, Dayna Hildebrandt survived a sexual assault only to have her report dismissed by London Police. This week her claim was substantiated by the Office of the Independent Police Review Director. Dayna shared her painful ordeal with London Morning.

"Constable Jason Lange failed to follow LPS policy pertaining to investigating sexual offence," the OIPRD report concludes. "During the interview, he made no offer that Miss Hildebrandt call a support person or take a break." 

Lange wrote in his notes that he contacted Det. Const. Jennifer Hewerdine of the sexual assault section and together they concluded that a sexual assault didn't happen. 

Hewerdine "made it clear that she did not agree with Constable Lange's statement that she and he determined there were no grounds for a sexual assault charge," the OIPRD report states. "Constable Lange made the determination that a sexual assault did not occur prior to any investigation of the incident." 

Lange didn't consider that victims of sexual assault can be reluctant to come forward, the report stated. 

"His questions indicated a lack of compassion and could have been seen as blaming by Miss Hildebrandt," it said. 

'I feel heard'

Hildebrandt said she feels vindicated by the report. 

"I said that this happened and it happened. He treated me that way, and the investigative report says so. I feel like I was heard," she said. 

Dayna Hildebrandt reads a report from the Office of the Independent Police Review Board. (Kate Dubinski/CBC News)

"I want future police officers to have that compassion and understand. Make that woman or man feel comfortable when they're scared, they probably feel ashamed. The last thing you need is to be told that they don't believe you. It's already hard enough to stand up for yourself in this way." 

The Police Services Act prevents London police from speaking about what training or discipline Lange might receive in light of the OIPRD report. 

The investigative panel doesn't dictate what London police must do, but states in its conclusion that Lange's misconduct didn't meet the threshold for an automatic discipline hearing. 

Hildebrandt will be informed of any informal resolution or discipline.

now