Maple Ridge News

News Views: Make no mistake

One day after charges were stayed against a man accused of sexually assaulting a teenage girl at a Pitt Meadows rave, RCMP stood behind her and her father to express their disappointment and maintain their allegations.

Crown entered a stay of proceedings Tuesday against Colton Ashton McMorris on one count of sexual assault.

The Criminal Justice branch concluded that the available evidence did not provide a substantial likelihood of conviction, even after a senior prosecutor conducted a thorough assessment of the information collected.

This despite an investigation by not only Ridge Meadows RCMP’s serious crime unit, but specialized teams from E Division headquarters.

This despite the fact the alleged assault took place at a party attended by hundreds of teens, and that one of them took photographs and a video of the incident and posted them on the social-networking site Facebook. They were repeatedly shared online, prompting police to make a public appeal to stop their distribution.

Police said during their initial investigation that as many as half a dozen men may have been involved in the alleged assault and that the young girl had been drugged.

At first, they called it a gang rape.

In the end, only one man was charged with sexual assault.

Now that charge has been stayed.

Understandably, the young woman and her father, who cannot be named, are upset.

As are police. They claim the charges are not an exaggeration, but need more witnesses to come forward, to lift the “code of silence.”

Police are steadfast in their belief a sexual assault occurred. They’ve seen the pictures. We haven’t.

But the lawyer for the accused is correct in stating that police are overstepping their boundaries and inflaming the issue, that his client is innocent until proven guilty. He should be tried in a court of law – a solemn inquiry into the truth – not at the South Bonson Community Centre.

Make no mistake, RCMP are not judge and jury, nor prosecutors. Their duty, partly, is to gather enough evidence to make arrests and secure charges to help prove a crime was committed.

In this case, they haven’t done so.

 

– Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows News

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