Chief Bill Blair said on Tuesday that society and the public should respect the choices of sexual assault victims on whether they want to come forward to police or not.
“We encourage women to come forward, but it is their choice,” he said, after being questioned by reporters on how many women had come forward regarding the Jian Ghomeshi sexual assault allegations.
The Chief added that any victim who does come forward will be treated with respect. “We always respond with a compassionate response,” he said.
So far, a woman who does not want to be identified, but has come forward to police with allegations against Ghomeshi, has said she was treated with “the utmost respect and care” by TPS Sex Crimes investigators.
“There was no judgement, there was nothing shameful about it; they didn’t express their own opinions, anything like that. It was a lot easier than I thought,” said the woman on an evening radio program.
The woman who has come forward to the police added that she did so because of a press conference she saw where the Chief had said it was necessary for people to come forward to start an investigation and that there was no statute of limitations on sexual assaults. “It was 100 per cent Police Chief Bill Blair,” she said, on what compelled her to report her allegations. She said after hearing Blair’s words she thought “I can do this, I felt I had to do this.”
In the same radio show, the host asked the woman about facing criticism for not revealing her identity: “Many took issue with the fact that you did not agree to be identified.” In her reply, she said “a lot of them aren’t in that position… so it’s easy to say (so) from the outside.”
Chief Blair, too, said he was surprised by how many people, especially men, were in favour of pressuring women to report sexual assault allegations to police. “I don’t believe it is appropriate to force people to do what they don’t want to do,” said the Chief.
The Chief repeated that any woman who wants to report a sexual assault will be supported: “It is a difficult choice to come forward but be assured she will be treated with respect and provided with the support she needs and deserves.”