Companies sued, call sexual assault of a 13-yr-old in 2008, 'her own negligence'
A 13-year-old Native girl who reported a sexual assault that occurred in 2008 at a K-Day’s summer carnival and filed a lawsuit against the Northlands company and North American Midway Entertainment-Canada Co. was told she “ought to have known” she was putting herself in a bad situation.
According to CBC News, the statement from Northlands and North American Midway Entertainment-Canada Co. came in response to a lawsuit from the victim, an Indigenous woman who CBC is referring to as Jessica to protect her identity.
On the night in question, and according to the claim filed in January, “Jessica went with a friend to the summer carnival, known at the time as Capital Ex, on July 19, 2008. The girls met a midway employee who introduced himself as Phoenix. He bought a 750ml bottle of vodka and the three drank it that night in a semi-truck.”
Jessica began to feel sick, went to lie down in the back of the truck where she was sexually assaulted. She was found unconscious at about 3am on the property, her skirt was pulled up to her stomach and she was not wearing underwear. Her friend was leaning on a tree nearby. She went to the hospital where doctors diagnosed her with alcohol poisoning, and found evidence of sexual assault. They also obtained a rape kit sample.
Charges were never filed as there was reportedly not enough evidence found by the Edmonton Police Service.
“Jessica” in 2018
Jessica, who is now 23-years-old, filed a $100,000 lawsuit in Alberta against Northlands, North American Midway Entertainment-Canada Co. and her alleged attacker. Her attacker has since died.
Jessica says the past ten years have been horrible for her, and filled with flashbacks, anxiety, depression and PTSD. After her assault, After the assault, Jessica says she ran away and became involved in child sex work, drugs and gangs.
North American Midway Entertainment-Canada Co filed a “statement of defence” in August citing damages were caused by 13-year-old Jessica’s “own negligence,” including "failing to take care of her own safety," "voluntarily consuming excessive amounts of alcohol or drugs," "accompanying one or more individuals when she knew or ought to have known that she was putting herself and her safety in jeopardy," and "failing to seek the assistance" of security.
Northlands also denied "each and every" allegation in their statement filed in July.
Mary Jane James, executive director of the Sexual Assault Centre of Edmonton has called the statements by the company’s“victim-blaming.
"It smacks of victim blaming, which is so wrong. That is what contributes to the rape culture that we live in today. That is why people don't come forward. They think they're going to be blamed for it."
“Regardless of whether Jessica was drinking, 13-year-olds cannot consent to sexual activity with an adult. Having sex with someone under the influence of drugs or alcohol is also not consensual, James said to CBC News.
Sexual assault is never the victim's fault, she said, no matter what the circumstances.
None of the allegations have been proven in court.
Follow Indian Country Today’s associate editor and senior correspondent, Vincent Schilling (Akwesasne Mohawk) on Twitter -@VinceSchilling
Are you using the new mobile platform? Get Indian Country Today on your phone.