She’s waited nearly two and a half years to speak up about a non-consensual relationship she had with a man she had gone to for help. But once she finally did speak out, the woman who can only be known as Emma to protect her identity, says she wasn’t treated fairly by the authorities she reported it to.
“At minimum it would be nice if when people came forward they weren’t treated with these biases and these stigmas and these judgements, but rather receive my information and ensure to me you’ll honour it,” she told Bridge City News in an on-camera interview Wednesday night (in which her image and voice have been altered).
Emma had been the victim of domestic violence in the past and was seeking help through the Domestic Violence Action Team (DVAT). It was there, in December 2017, she met Bill Kaye - their program coordinator, and a former Lethbridge Police Inspector.
“I feel I was absolutely manipulated. We’re talking about someone who’s policed longer than I’ve been alive, and then continued to work in the community in a very close and expert capacity,” says Emma, who is more than 30 years younger than Kaye.
She says she felt coerced into a sexual relationship with him that lasted from May through August of 2018, but was too afraid to say anything at the time.
“I was very vulnerable,” she says, “I worked with the vulnerable, I know it and I see it from the other side now and it absolutely tears me apart because my silence fed into that – I get emotional - I’m sorry. To think when I’m across from somebody else –you know, how can somebody look at that and see anything other than someone who is so broken, because that is what I was.”
When Emma came forward to report the sexual coercion to authorities some two years after the fact, she says she felt she wasn’t taken seriously by Lethbridge Police Service and felt there was a bias because she was accusing a former inspector, who was still called upon as an expert in the field of sexual violence.
“I’m not the type to not take accountability, I do take accountability for my choices. But I strongly believe that our society has this problem with victim blaming and it’s allowed the police to see it a little different,” she says. “It’s about justice, it’s about protecting the vulnerable.
It’s important to note, that Kaye has not been charged and the allegations have not been proven in court. He has since resigned from his position at DVAT and has stepped down from a board position he held at Chinook Sexual Assault Centre (CSAC).
In a written statement, CSAC's Executive Director, Kristine Cassie had this to say: "The Chinook Sexual Assault Centre (CSAC) holds its role in our community very seriously. As an agency, we take seriously all allegations of misconduct and abuse and work to empower victims to set the path of where and how they may deal with their trauma. We follow and enforce our Codes of Ethics and Conduct with staff, volunteers, and Board. Mr. Kaye has tendered his resignation and is no longer a member of our Board of Directors."
According to a statement from LPS, they took the position that the RCMP should carry out the investigation of Kaye to avoid any appearance of a conflict of interest.
Emma confirms she took her case to the RCMP detachment in Coaldale because she didn't feel comfortable with LPS handling it.
However, LPS also claims in their statement that Coaldale RCMP later indicated they would be forwarding the file back to Lethbridge Police. LPS says they asked to confirm that the complainant (Emma) approved of this and they were told that she had.
According to Emma, this is untrue. She says she was never made aware that her file would end up back in the hands of LPS.
Emma says it wasn’t until the Alberta Solicitor General and CBC News got involved that her file got rerouted back to RCMP for a second time.
Bridge City News requested confirmation of this fact from LPS, but the police service declined to comment further.
"I never asked any officer to support me personally," says Emma. "I have simply asked for my right to an unbiased investigation, free of any and all conflicts. I should not have had to fight this hard to get it, nobody should have to. And Lethbridge Police Service should have never made the statements they did, knowing they were false. Their continued abuse of position has absolutely destroyed my faith in their organization. Their organization has proved to me, that the fear I had to come forward to stop this in 2018 was absolutely valid, because they are doing it now. This has to end, they need to do better."
Bridge City News did confirm with Coaldale RCMP that they now have the file back in their hands.
According to RCMP Staff Sergeant Glenn Henry,“we confirm that we are assuming the investigation as requested by LPS and that no charges have been laid. Our goal here is to complete a thorough and full investigation.“