Nova Scotia

Woman frustrated at being shut out of police review into her rape case

A woman who is challenging the way police complaints are handled in Nova Scotia says she's frustrated she's been unable to give her version of events during an internal police review of her case.

Halifax police chief says there 'have been some learnings,' but won't share review details

Carrie Low speaks to the media in September outside of Nova Scotia Supreme Court in Halifax. (Robert Short/CBC)

A woman who is challenging the way police complaints are handled in Nova Scotia says she's frustrated she was unable to give her version of events during an internal police review of her sexual assault case.

Halifax Regional Police Chief Dan Kinsella ordered the review in September, days after Carrie Low went public in a CBC story about the confusion and delays that plagued a police investigation after she reported she'd been raped in May 2018.

Her lawyer, Jessica Rose, said Monday she asked Kinsella whether Low would be invited to be part of the review, and his "response was no, which was disappointing."

"Part of the main problem that we see with this whole process is how little Carrie's voice has been included," said Rose. "So the fact that an internal review is taking place but without there being an opportunity for Carrie to voice her perspective about where everything went wrong, is troubling."

Low said she was hoping to bring up her concerns with the chief. 

"I also wanted the opportunity just to sit down with Dan Kinsella and just talk to him one on one, and he hasn't been open to that discussion either. So it has been very frustrating," she said.

Low said she was kidnapped and violently raped by two men after she suspects her drink was spiked at a Darmouth, N.S., bar. She reported it to police almost immediately, but said officers took 10 days to pick up her clothes, did not visit the scene of the crime and failed to process her toxicology paperwork for months.

Police chief offers few details

On Monday, Kinsella told reporters outside a board of police commissioners meeting that he has received the results of the review, but he would not say specifically what they were.

"I have looked at them, but I have to have some further consultation in regards to where do we go and how do we move forward," he said.

"There have been some learnings from that particular review, but those consultations have to happen with the investigators and with the supervision within the [sexual assault investigation team] unit."

Low is also challenging a decision by the Office of the Police Complaints Commissioner to reject her complaint against Halifax Regional Police because she filed it outside of the six-month statute of limitations.

In September, Low and a team at the Elizabeth Fry Society of Mainland Nova Scotia went to court to try to force the commissioner to investigate her complaint.

Jessica Rose is a lawyer for the Elizabeth Fry Society. (Robert Short/CBC)

On Monday, Low's case was in court before Justice Kevin Coady to set dates. There will be two separate court processes next year to address Low's concerns.

"One has to do specifically with Carrie's case and how it was dealt with," said Rose. "The other has to do with the constitutionality of the regulation more generally."

If Low is successful at the first date in March her complaint against the police will be reheard. Regardless of what happens in March, Low's team will appear in court again in June.

"If we are successful at the June dates, then the regulation that contains the six-month limitation period will be struck down entirely," Rose said. "It'll be a broader systemic change." 

Lawyer Sheldon Choo appeared on behalf of the Attorney General of Nova Scotia and the police complaints commissioner, but declined to comment.

About the Author

Shaina Luck

Reporter

Shaina Luck covers everything from court to city council. Her favourite stories are about ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances. Email: shaina.luck@cbc.ca