Edmonton cops ignored rape of First Nations' teen, youth worker alleges

Youth court worker Mark Cherrington stands in front of the Edmonton Law Courts building



EDMONTON -- A city youth worker claims city police are dismissing violence against aboriginal women after a First Nations teen was allegedly raped but ended up being the one in handcuffs when she called police.

The revelation came out in an Edmonton youth courtroom Thursday, where the 18-year-old woman appeared on a charge resulting for a breach of release conditions dating back to when she was a minor.

Youth worker Mark Cherrington attended the hearing, where the girl said she had been raped at a west-end motel Feb. 17. Cherrington said the girl was bloodied, bruised and swollen, and missing a tooth.

She called her mom, who contacted the police.

Officers took the woman into custody for not completing court-ordered community service as well as an apology letter in connection to the breach of release conditions.

"They told her that once she was out of jail she was more than welcome to come down to the cop shop and fill out a report," Cherrington said.

"Sure they had a warrant, they have an obligation there too. But which is more important, not completing an apology letter, or a girl who had been brutally assaulted."

Cherrington also said a rape kit wasn't performed until three days later.

The teen was housed at the Edmonton Remand Centre in a holding cell with two other women and ended up sleeping on the floor.

The woman wasn't allowed to shower or bathe, in an effort to preserve evidence.

"It's bizarre. It was a pile of mistakes, first by the police and then the remand centre," Cherrington said.

"There's no way, that being five days into this that I should have been the first responder to her sexual assault."

The woman's lawyer is going to file a complaint with police, Cherrington said.

She was kept in the remand centre Thursday and was supposed to be released Friday night.

"The police force is dismissing aboriginal women. The EPS pulled out of Project KARE. They're not taking violence against aboriginal women seriously," he said.

"Me being white, if I made a complaint (like she did,) I'm sure police would have dealt with it differently."

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