The Sexual Assault Review Program announces findings from its first assembling of the External Review Team

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An internal review had assessed 179 closed cases, of which 23 cases, or 12 per cent, had been identified to be re-opened. The numbers coupled with other factors led The Canadian Forces Provost Marshal to create a program that would govern a review model of the sexual assault case files.

The Canadian Forces Military Police Group (CF MP Gp) implemented the Sexual Assault Review Program (SARP) late last year to review cases of sexual assault from 2010 to 2016. The program was created to increase transparency and confidence in the way sexual assault cases are investigated in the Canadian Armed Forces, by determining if any investigative avenues or practices were missed before a case is deemed ‘unfounded.’

The main component of the SARP is the External Review Team (ERT). It is constituted or composed of a victim advocate from Ontario, a representative from the Sexual Misconduct Response Centre, a nurse from the Canadian Forces Health Services, a civilian prosecutor from Ottawa that specializes in sexual assault, a member of the Canadian Forces National Investigative Services (CFNIS), and an RCMP officer under secondment to CFNIS. All members were given specialized training for the review.

The Results

From 2010 to 2016, the Military Police investigated a total of 757 cases of sexual assault. SARP was implemented to review the 179 cases that were classified as unfounded by the investigators. Of these cases, 113 were reaffirmed to be unfounded. 43 cases were deemed to have been misclassified as unfounded, and re-coded to more accurately reflect the findings of the investigations. They were often coded as ‘founded, not cleared,’ meaning a suspect has not been identified with the case. 23 investigations were re-opened, and one case has led to charges being laid so far.

Unfounded Cases

Although the Military Police has generally been below the national average percentage of claims that have been deemed as unfounded, they continue to work to improve the process for finding and investigating potential perpetrators of sexual assault. By having an external review of sexual assault cases, Military Police now have another mechanism at their disposal to challenge or validate their technics of investigation, their skills and their approach towards assisting and helping the victims. The implementation of SARP will help the MP build greater confidence in victims and witnesses to come forward with complaints, and as a result, dissuade potential aggressors. SARP comes after the launch of Operation Honour, which has significantly increased the capacity of the MP to investigate sexual crimes and promote a safer workplace for everyone.

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