Providing a level of detail as to what the assault specifically was may lead people to attribute a level of seriousness to the sexual assault and that’s not the message we want to send,” she said.
- Recent strings of sexual assaults in pockets across the city, including the Annex, Etobicoke and Ryerson and York universities, have some asking why police won’t say whether the attacks are instances of an unwanted grope or of rape.
- While most sexual assault alerts in this city come from police, Ryerson’s security team hasreleased more specific details about the nature of attacks reported to them. In one instance, two women had their buttocks grabbed, and in another, a man allegedly touched a woman under her clothes at a campus bar.
- York University, which has had six reported sex assaults since the start of September, also offers more details in its security bulletins.
- York University spokeswoman Joanne Rider said its protocol is to “communicate what was reported to York security in terms of detail.” She later clarified that a description of the incident would not necessarily mean every detail is reported.
- Elaborating on her earlier point, Toronto police’s Gray said: “Every woman responds in a different way to the sexual assault and it’s important for us to send the message that they are all serious, that they are all investigated seriously, and to get into the specifics of what happened doesn’t contribute to that.”
- In 1983, the offence of rape was repealed from the Criminal Code and replaced with the broader term of sexual assault. The change was made in part because it was difficult to get a conviction. Lawyers could question women about past sexual history to discredit them, and many women chose not to report the crime.
- Under the Criminal Code, sexual assault includes any unwanted contact of a sexual nature, from touching and kissing to violent sexual attacks and including verbal threats with sexual overtones. Charges of sexual assault with a weapon and aggravated sexual assault can also be laid. It’s another reason why police always use the term “sexual assault” in their alerts, said Gray, because it mirrors the legal language.
- Jane Doe, her identity still protected, successfully sued Toronto Police after she was raped at knifepoint in 1986. Doe’s assailant, known as the “Balcony Rapist,” had a preferred victim type and area of operation that police had documented, yet didn’t warn the public. After Doe won her lawsuit in 1998, a city audit followed. Among its recommendations: Toronto police should revise their sexual assault alerts. “A lot of those alerts didn’t include any factual language about how the assault transpired, but rather they were seen as fear-based in nature and were a list of warnings and ‘don’t do this’ and ‘don’t do that,’ ” said Gray, who has sat on an advisory committee made up of experts from the field.
policing.. the language