WATCH: Students at the University of Victoria say they’re frustrated with the legal system the day after learning charges won’t be laid in a campus sex assault case
Four University of Victoria students came forward to Saanich Police in February saying they had been sexually assaulted by a student they knew well.
Saanich Police arrested a male student and recommended five charges against him.
He was set to appear in court Thursday but Crown Counsel announced there was insufficient evidence to proceed with charges.
“We have to be satisfied that there’s a substantial likelihood of a conviction before charges can proceed,” said Dan McLaughlin, communications counsel for the B.C. Criminal Justice Branch.
And in sexual assault cases he said that means considering the defence.
“Those defences include the defence of consent and the defence of honest but mistaken belief of consent, the crown must be in a position to disprove those defences beyond a reasonable doubt,” said McLaughlin.
CHEK News spoke with a group of young women on campus to hear how they thought the outcome of this case would impact students.
“You can’t really come forward because you don’t think you’re going to be taken seriously and that’s a really dangerous mindset to have,” said first year student Lauren Maddock.
And many students feel something needs to change.
“I think it shows the court systems aren’t quite working the way they should especially when there are four people that have come forward,” said student Mike Smillie.
While no criminal charges will be laid, the University of Victoria said the conditions it placed on the individual remain in place at this time including that he not live in residence and that he not make contact with the complainants.
Staff at the Victoria Sexual Assault Centre said while the case may not move forward in the courts they have an important message for survivors.
“It doesn’t mean it didn’t happen, it doesn’t mean these people aren’t believed, it’s important for us to know that you’re believed, and what happened wasn’t okay, and that it’s not your fault,” Lindsay Pomper said.
If you need help or support you can contact the Victoria Sex Assault Crisis and Information Line at (250) 383-3232