KAMLOOPS, B.C. — There was nothing consensual about a sexual incident in an Interior B.C. jail cell caught on video and viewed by police and jail guards, according to one of the two women involved.
The woman, who spoke on condition of anonymity, alleged she never willingly engaged in any sexual activity with her cellmate — a stranger she has since learned may be infected with HIV.
The woman said she was so drunk that night she doesn’t even remember being taken to the detachment, let alone saying ‘Yes’ to whatever might have happened in the Kamloops cell on Aug. 18.
And she is horrified and angry the incident was watched by seven men — four officers and three civilian jail guards — for at least seven minutes before someone intervened.
The woman has filed a lawsuit in B.C. Supreme Court seeking damages. The action names the provincial and federal governments, the City of Kamloops, seven John Does and one Jane Doe.
The woman conceded she was indeed arrested for being drunk. She was at a party at a friend’s house and had been drinking all day. There was a fight and police showed up. She was arrested and taken to the detachment, but released the next day without charges.
It was not until five days later she was told by RCMP officers something was amiss, and five more days after that before she learned she might have been exposed to HIV, she alleged.
“I was horrified and scared and mad,” she said.
In press releases, the RCMP has described only an allegation that seven men watched an act of consensual sex between two women.
Members of the RCMP’s serious crimes squad investigated the case. A report has been forwarded to Crown prosecutors for consideration of criminal charges. A decision on charges is not expected for several more weeks.
Victoria lawyer Erik Magraken, who filed the lawsuit on the woman’s behalf, said he can’t comment on the case specifics.
Generally, however, the courts have recognized it’s not always possible for intoxicated individuals to give consent to sexual activity, he said. As well, the law also recognizes there can be no consent between individuals if one of them has HIV and fails to disclose that to his or her sexual partner.
“If they fail to disclose they have HIV, that is an aggravated assault and there can be no consent in those circumstances,” Magraken said.
“This is all about the duty to protect. If the RCMP has someone in their custody, they have a duty to protect that individual from harm.
“If harm comes from ignoring that duty, damages can follow.”
Insp. Yves Lacasse, Kamloops RCMP detachment commander, said he could not comment because the matter is in the hands of Crown counsel for review.
“It’s important to let that review take its course,” Lacasse said.
The woman said she didn’t learn the seven officers and jail guards watched without immediately intervening until after reports appeared in the media.
“I asked them what did they see, and (investigators) didn’t tell me anything,” she said. “They only said it was on video.”
She said she worries for her health and the long-term impact of possibly being exposed to a life-threatening disease.
“It was the worst thing in the world that could have possibly happened to me. It’s been stressful. Every day is a struggle.”
The RCMP is expected to file a statement of defence in the weeks to come.
The four officers involved, including a long-time veteran who was the acting watch commander on the night in question, remain suspended from duty pending the outcome of the criminal investigation and internal proceedings.
The City has cleared its three workers of wrongdoing and allowed them to return to work.
(Kamloops Daily News)