In September of 2011, a then-17 year old girl was enjoying a night out in her small Inuit community of Tasiujaq when she was apprehended by authorities on suspicion of Drunk and Disorderly. The arresting officer, Danielle Gallant, was a rookie who had been on the force for less than a month. Constable Gallant had not been trained nor authorized to carry a firearm, but she had been sent to the remote village after reports of partying.
Gallant placed the teenager in handcuffs, then she put her in the back of the police van next to 24-year-old Joe Kritik. Kritik, a four-time convicted sex-offender, was not in handcuffs. That poor decision by the rookie officer would change the life of the young girl forever. The officer then left the vicinity of the van to further “police the area.”
When the officer was out of sight, Kritik took advantage of this opportunity and proceeded to rape the teenager. Restrained by her handcuffs, and with all the doors locked, the teenage girl was trapped with no way to fight back or escape.
Upon returning, Constable Gallant found Kritik, pants down, mounted on the girl. She quickly separated the two and took them both to the police station. When the teenager was taken to the police station she was refused medical care for the rape and thrown into a cell overnight. Neither of her parents were notified of the incident at that time, either.
It was later found the 17-year-old had committed no wrongdoing.
As egregious as this entire story is, the facts surrounding it get worse. The small Native American community of Tasiujaq is policed entirely by white Canadians from the southern part of the country. Race may play a great role in the police force’s inability to properly take the concerns of the local populace seriously. Many have been clamoring for members of the local community to be the ones to police their own, but this has been to no avail thus far.
Another startling problem that has been highlighted is the precinct in particular. The Kativik Regional Police Force is no stranger to covering up sexual assaults. Their former police chief once raped a woman on the force, bribed her to stay silent, and eventually fired her for coming forward. That officer remains unemployed to this day.
The rape victim, now 21, suffers from PTSD and never allows herself to be alone in the presence of men. She is currently suing the police force and the government for the sum of $400,000. The case is ongoing, but a settlement is expected. Denying the incident happened is no option for the police as Kritik plead guilty to sexual assault and received a piddly 39-month sentence.
The issues of systemic prejudices against rape victims has been breaking headlines for the last few years. It is bound by neither country, nationality, race, nor religion. It is a problem that governments and police forces struggle with, continuing to show failings and shortcomings. At the same time, this becomes a hot-topic issue as another police force in Arizona is guilty of much the same, leaving a teacher to be raped by an inmate while she was supposed to have been under the protection of the authorities in the jail facility.
H/T: CBC News Montreal | Featured Image: via Jane George