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A replay program vision of cases of threatened sexual assault

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The Violence Against Women Advocate Case Review program is located in several cities across the country.

The Canadian Press< p class="StyledBodyHtmlParagraph-sc-48221190-4 hnvfyV">A Canadian program that ensures sexual assault cases are not improperly dismissed by police could find itself short of funding at the end of the month.

The Violence Against Women Advocate Case Review Project is a network of sexual assault review panels, made up of front-line experts who review police investigations that have not led to charges locally.

The program first launched in a few communities nationwide in 2016, but gained national attention after a survey by the

em>Globe and Mail in 2017 regarding sexual assault allegations dismissed as unfounded.

Committees are now in place in more than twenty communities, including Ottawa, Kingston, Saint John, Regina and Calgary. Others are in development elsewhere, but there is uncertainty over the financing of the program.

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Sunny Marriner, former director of the Rape Assistance Center ;Ottawa, is the national coordinator of the Violence Against Women Advocate Case Review project.

She explains that the program received a three-year grant from the federal Department of Women and Gender Equality Canada which is due to end on March 31. A similar grant was awarded to it during its first years of operation.

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Police in London, Ontario, are one of several Canadian police forces that have formed a sexual assault review committee.

Program officials have made representations to the federal government about the need for sustainable funding, but have not had any answers and say they have no other options at this time.

A spokesperson for Women and Gender Equality Canada notes that the project was funded for 38 months as part of a departmental program to combat gender-based violence. It received funding through the Ottawa Coalition Against Violence Against Women. The ministry, however, does not provide ongoing operating funding to organizations.

Some local committees have also received provincial funding from sexual assault support centers, but Sunny Marriner would like stable, uniform funding. We need consistency.

For specialists in the field, it has been obvious for decades that the vast majority of sexual assaults reported to the police do not result in not charges, says Sunny Marriner.

There is no safety net for survivors when their cases are unsuccessful. So our goal is to fill this gap.

A quote from Sunny Marriner, National Coordinator of the Violence Against Women Advocate Case Review

When they take up a file, the committees can then make recommendations as to whether the file should be reopened or whether other avenues of investigation should be explored. However, police departments are not required to follow these recommendations or work with the program, Sunny Marriner acknowledges.

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According to Sunny Marriner, there is no safety net for survivors if their case is unsuccessful.

< p class="StyledBodyHtmlParagraph-sc-48221190-4 hnvfyV">The Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police has praised this model, but some police services have been adamantly opposed to its implementation, he points out. -She.

She wants to develop a national framework for collecting statistics on program activities, including the number of cases referred for further investigation.

Sunny Marriner assures that she has no intention of stopping there, even if she cannot obtain new funds quickly.

Recently, the program found itself in the spotlight again in connection with an investigation into five former members of Canada's junior hockey team, accused of sexual assault in London.

London police said last month that the case – which was closed without charges in 2019 before being reopened three years later – did not ;had not been sent to the review program. Authorities declined to explain why, nor did they say why the investigation was initially closed.

Dillon Dubé, Carter Hart, Michael McLeod, Cal Foote and Alex Formenton were charged with sexual assault earlier this year in connection with an alleged sexual assault at a London hotel in 2018. Michael McLeod faces an additional charge of sexual assault for participation in the offense. All five plan to defend themselves against the allegations and have opted for a jury trial.

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