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Noticed more talk about sexual assault in the media? So have we. Some people are understandably wondering if there has also been an increase in sexual assault reports. So, have sexual assault reports increased? If you’re in Ottawa, the answer is a definite yes.

In 2017, police received 824 reports of sexual assault in Ottawa. In 2016, police received 636 reports (source at bottom of article). That’s a 26% increase. Overall, 158 people were charged with sexual assault in Ottawa in 2018. This number was 127 in 2016 and 112 in 2017. 

In Canada, the Criminal Law definition of sexual assault is an assault which is committed in circumstances of a sexual nature such that the sexual integrity of the victim is violated.

What Can You Expect?

There are three potential outcomes when a sexual assault is reported to the Ottawa police:

  • Investigators determine no crime was committed and the police dismiss the report as “unfounded” 
  • The complaintant decides not to lay charges so the police dismiss the report as “cleared otherwise”
  • The police lay a charge

You will not necessarily be charged, even if you have been named in a report. Try to keep this in mind during what can be a confusing and upsetting time.

Are Sexual Assault Charges Being Laid More Often in Ottawa?

About 20 percent of sexual assault reports lead to charges. While the number of reports in Ottawa has increased, this number has stayed about the same. 

Recently released data may have caused at least some of the increase in reports. According to CBC News’ Elise Von Scheel, the data showed “officers dismissed almost 30 percent of reported sexual assaults as ‘unfounded.’”

The resulting controversy had an impact. The Ottawa police force have changed their approach. Will this have an impact on the percentage of reports that lead to charges? That remains to be seen.

Improving the Handling of Sexual Assault Cases

The Ottawa police are looking at a number of options. For instance, a civilian panel will review how police handle reports. The panel will look at “unfounded” and “cleared otherwise” cases to identify patterns and trends, and suggest improvements.

For example, police often judge a victim’s credibility based on whether they can give a chronological account of the alleged assault. This involves asking the victim if they can recount the series of events backwards. If the victim is suffering trauma, this might be almost impossible for them to do. Police could significantly improve their approach to reports by taking trauma into account.

How Does This Affect You?

Ottawans are increasingly reporting sexual assaults. Of course, this makes police involvement in borderline cases more likely. Also, the Ottawa police’s upcoming changes could increase the percentage of reports that lead to charges.

Worried about the increase in sexual assault reports? It goes without saying you have to be mindful when you make sexual advances. Check in with the other person to make sure they’re comfortable. You don’t need a signed contract to avoid complications, but you ,just have the other person’s clear and enthusiastic consent. Remember, saying or doing nothing does not imply consent.

Protect Yourself

Think you might be charged with sexual assault? Armoured Suits offers a complimentary 30-minute phone consultation with no obligation to hire. We can explain the process if you are charged and how you should handle it. Contact Armoured Suits by phone at 613-233-0008 or e-mail at yourteam@armouredsuits.ca to book your meeting.

Incident-based crime statistics, by detailed violations, Canada, provinces, territories and Census Metropolitan Areas c 1 2 3 4  
Table: 35-10-0177-01 (formerly CANSIM 252-0051)  
Geography: Canada, Province or territory, Census metropolitan area, Census metropolitan area part   Ottawa-Gatineau, Ontario part [35505] 6 7 8  
    Sexual assault, level 1  [1330]