Blogger, lawyer apologize to police for charges of bad treatment
EDMONTON — Edmonton’s police chief has accepted apologies from a youth case worker and a lawyer who alleged officers didn’t properly treat an alleged sexual assault victim.
In February, caseworker Mark Cherrington and lawyer Parminder Johal both spoke publicly to the media and online about the treatment of a young woman who was taken into custody on outstanding warrants on Feb. 17.
The woman alleged she told police she had been sexually assaulted, but says she was taken to a cell in the remand centre instead of a hospital.
Cherrington vented through the media, Twitter and his blog that she should have been brought to hospital right away.
Cherrington now says it appears that allegation is unsubstantiated.
The 18-year-old woman was in custody at the Edmonton Remand Centre just before 4 a.m. Monday, but police say she didn’t report the alleged sexual assault until 11:30 p.m. that same day.
She was then taken to hospital and a sexual assault investigation was started.
“In retrospect I should have taken steps to confirm that information before I spoke publicly about it,” Cherrington wrote on his blog entry.
Johal echoed Cherrington’s apology, saying she had believed at the time that the woman had reported the sexual assault to police at the time of arrest.
“The criticisms I made regarding the steps police took in this investigation were largely based on this belief and therefore were premature.”
Police chief Rod Knecht said police reviewed the incident.
He said a review was carried out into the incident, where officials spoke to the officers involved, and looked at their notes and the evidence.
“We, the Edmonton Police Service, should be held to account when we make mistakes, this was not one of those occasions,” Knecht said Monday.
As for the way the story unfolded on social media, Knecht said it got out of control quickly, but this case includes a lesson for both sides.
“It just tended to grow throughout the week, and I became more and more frustrated, and I put out a response, on the Thursday or the Friday, because of the frustration,” Knecht said.
“The lesson to be learned here is that when we go forward with something that we have all the facts.”
Knecht had no details to share on the alleged sexual assault case, saying the investigation was ongoing.