Ottawa police say they are continuing to investigate the alleged date rape of an 18-year-old university student despite an online petition charging that the investigation had been dropped.
The petition was started by a friend of Mélodie Morin, 18, who had told police she was assaulted on Sept. 26. After the petition gained attention Thursday, Morin spoke publicly about the case, saying she had been told by the detective that the investigation was closed because the incident was a misunderstanding.
Her statement came on the heels of a newly released University of Ottawa study that suggested police need to improve interactions with sexual assault victims.
The detective who spoke to Morin is scheduled to leave the sexual assault and child abuse unit, but police said the investigation remains open.
“The Ottawa Police recognizes that the investigator’s findings to date — that were conveyed to the victim on Nov. 4 — may have further impacted her sense of safety and security,” a statement released by the force on Friday said. “We remain committed to an open dialogue.”
The statement said all investigations concluded by a detective are reviewed by a supervisor before they are closed. The results of the Sept. 26 sexual assault investigation had yet to be reviewed, police said.
However, police said a supervisor in the sexual assault unit who took a second look at the file determined that “not all investigative avenues had been exhausted.”
Morin said she believes that the way the police handled her case needs to be addressed.
“I don’t think that the way the detective handled this was good,” she said. “There were a lot of things she told me that were extremely insulting.”
Morin said the attack has resulted in flashbacks, night terrors and insomnia. She had to drop out of the music program at the University of Ottawa because of stress and depression, she said.
She said that after she went out for birthday drinks on Sept. 25, an acquaintance she met on campus invited her to a party at his apartment.
Morin said she repeatedly said no to the man’s advances and started to cry when he wouldn’t stop. He allegedly struck her, spit on her and choked her.
“He just didn’t stop. It went from him beating me up, to raping me, to beating me up, to raping me, to choking me,” she said. “I was to the point where I thought that I was going to die.”
Morin alleged that the assault lasted for at least two hours before the man walked her back in silence to the university campus where she lives.
As soon as she was home, she called police who took her to the hospital for examination and treatment.