Kamloops RCMP are investigating an alleged sexual assault that occurred at an outdoor party in a semi-rural area near Kamloops, and are encouraging anyone who may have witnessed and photographed the incident to turn any images over to police.
"As this event strongly resembles recent cases that have been largely publicized, RCMP investigators believe there are individuals who witnessed what took place and have photographs of the incident," RCMP Cpl. Cheryl Bush said Wednesday in a statement. "Such photographs would be evidence to a criminal act, which must be turned to over to authorities, rather than be posted or distributed.
"Police will investigate any instances of these photographs being mishandled, which could result in charges of making, possessing or distributing child pornography."
Maximum sentences for such offences range up to 10 years in jail.
The alleged assault occurred "overnight" at a graduation celebration in the Tree Flats area of Barnhartvale. According to accounts given to police, a 17-year-old girl at the event – which began Tuesday evening and continued into Wednesday morning – became separated from her friends and was approached by an unknown male. He then took her into the bush and sexually assaulted her. Police say the girl was able to make a cellphone call to get picked up from the party. She reported the incident to her parents, who took her to the hospital and called police. Police estimate as many as 1,000 high-school aged people were in the area for the party.
Police say they had scheduled extra roadblocks for the event, and made several liquor seizures and one drug seizure.
The Kamloops incident echoes a high-profile incident that occurred in September, 2010, when images of an alleged sexual assault at a Pitt Meadows rave were posted online and quickly spread, resulting in a firestorm of publicity and appeals from police for young people to stop posting and sharing the images.
A number of charges, including one of sexual assault against a 20-year-old man, were laid in relation to that incident.
The charge was stayed in February, 2012, after crown prosecutors decided they did not have a good chance of obtaining a conviction.
A teen who took the photos pleaded guilty to producing child pornography and was sentenced to a year of probation.
Dennis Warrington, who was 21 at the time of his sentencing hearing in March, was initially charged with publishing and distributing child pornography for posting photos of the incident online. In December, 2012, he pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of distributing obscene material. He received a conditional discharge in March of this year.