Canadian Police Revisiting More Than 10,000 Dismissed Sexual Assault Cases

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After a newspaper investigation concluded that one-fifth of all sexual assault complaints in Canada were dismissed as “unfounded,” or baseless — a far higher percentage than for other types of crime — police forces across the country are revisiting old cases.

In total, police forces are reviewing more than 10,000 rape and assault allegations that were dismissed as “unfounded,” The Globe and Mail reports.

The newspaper previously reported that from 2010-2014, more than 27,000 such cases were given that designation, meaning they effectively disappeared from the Canadian justice system.

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police are reviewing all such cases from 2016 as well as a “sample” of previous allegations, the CBC reports. A number of local police forces are revisiting old cases, as well — sometimes voluntarily, the broadcaster says, and sometimes at the demand of a civilian oversight board.

The police chief of London, Ontario, has apologized to victims, and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said his administration would “do more” on the issue.

The flurry of responses were prompted by an investigation published by the Globe and Mail earlier this month.

The newspaper found that the number of sexual assault cases dismissed as “unfounded” was unusually high compared with other alleged crimes. The categorization means no crime had been attempted or committed. Such cases don’t factor into a police force’s crime statistics.

Because the number of unfounded cases wasn’t made public, reporter Robyn Doolittle sent hundreds of freedom of information requests to police forces across Canada. She found that nationwide more than 19 percent of sexual assault cases were dismissed as “unfounded” — nearly twice the rate for physical assault, and far higher than the rate for other crimes.

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