Press release: A 20-month Globe and Mail investigation into police-reported sexual assault allegations has revealed how police services across Ontario record some sexual assault complaints as “unfounded” − a formal police classification that means “a crime was neither attempted, nor occurred”.
Unfounded rates remain high in many Ontario regions. Inconsistencies in unfounded rates for sexual assault also emerged: the London, Ontario police service dropped 30 per cent of sexual-assault allegations as unfounded between 2010 and 2014, for example, whereas Windsor and Toronto saw just 3% and 7%, respectively.
What accounts for these inconsistencies? Unfounding often occurred, the Globe and Mail found, when a sexual assault complaint entailed just a short interview between the victim and police, and no subsequent investigation. Previous research concluded what survivor-victims and their advocates most feared: that, in fact, “complainants who do not conform to stereotypes about the perfect victim were winding up with cases deemed unfounded at a disproportionate rate.”
The Ontario Coalition of Rape Crisis Centres (OCRCC) commends the Globe and Mail investigation: many of our experiences as advocates and crisis workers supporting survivors of sexual assault align with these findings. Simply too many sexual assaults are reported and do not result in charges. And simply too many assaults categorized as unfounded draw on sexual violence misconceptions which construct survivors as unreliable or untruthful.