NEWS
02/22/2012 02:41 EST | Updated 04/23/2012 05:12 EDT

B.C. Gang Rape: Teen Victim Speaks Out

alamy

PITT MEADOWS, B.C. - A young woman whose life was upended after graphic photos depicting her alleged rape at a British Columbia rave party were spread over the Internet two years ago says she's devastated and repulsed that a sex assault charge in the case has been stayed.

The teen took the rare step of sitting before cameras on Wednesday to publicly plead for spectators to come forward who have maintained a "code of silence" and held back from telling police what they know and witnessed.

"No one in their right state of mind, including myself, would let something like that happen to them willingly," the teen told reporters, as her father sat next to her in a small community centre in Pitt Meadows, B.C., a bedroom community east of Vancouver.

"I've often wondered why women never reported when they were sexually assaulted, and now I know. It's a 'he-said, she-said' thing."

The teen was 16 years old when she went to the party in the rural area east of Vancouver on Sept. 11, 2010, where police said she was drugged and repeatedly raped while bystanders clicked photographs.

The images were spread quickly over Facebook, and she was tormented at school.

Police said some of those photos may never be wiped from social media entirely.

"To anyone who thinks this is OK, I'd like you to take your mother, girlfriend, wife, sister, niece, daughter — any female you know — and go do this to them. It's wrong and we all know it," said the teen, reading with a steady voice from a prepared statement.

"Someone with any morals would have never done this, not to mention let people watch and take pictures.

"It makes me sick even thinking about it."

The teen cannot be identified by court order, but she appeared at the news conference with her father after they asked police to help them make the plea.

The father said the extent of injuries his daughter suffered would not have happened in a situation where she was willing.

He, too, appealed to bystanders who have never shared information with police.

"You know at some point in your life, you will have to explain to perhaps your own kids ... what's right in life," he said. "It's never too late to do that. This is your time to do what's right."

Earlier this month, a teenaged boy who posted some of the images online was sentenced to 12 months' probation and ordered to write an apology to the victim.

Another man, Dennis Warrington, is charged with making and distributing pornography as a result of the attack.

But the sex assault charge against Colton Ashton McMorris was stayed Tuesday.

McMorris's lawyer said his client has had his life ruined following publicity around the high-profile case.

Tony Serka said the effects of the RCMP news conference that referred to the attack as a gang rape will continue for his client if anyone, including potential employers, decides to Google McMorris' name.

Serka said the stay in court proves McMorris is innocent.

Neil Mackenzie, spokesman for the Crown, said the stay of proceedings was entered Tuesday after the "experienced prosecutor" on the case conducted a thorough assessment of the evidence.

"The review included interviewing the numerous potential witnesses," Mackenzie said.

He said prosecutors didn't think there was enough evidence to get a conviction.

The Crown has one year to gather more evidence and re-activate the charge.

Sgt. Peter Thiessen told reporters police still "strongly believe" more than one person was involved, but would not elaborate as to the nature or range of allegations.

He said police continue to work on the case.

"I can assure you, knowing the content of these photos, it was not exaggerated what happened to this girl," said Thiessen, who has two daughters.

"Absolutely not. And I would say that if anybody heard the details of what this girl experienced, we wouldn't be having this conversation."

The teen said she's certain there is more evidence out there that will yet "make the case a go."

"I'm asking you to please come forward," she said. "It would mean the world to me and my family."

The decision to stay the charge sparked outrage from Vancouver Rape Relief and Women's Shelter, which said in a statement it is a betrayal of the woman, who was 16 at the time of the attack.

"We urge those in the community who witnessed the attack to come forward and tell us what they know," the group said in a news release.

"'Not enough evidence' means police and Crown failure. We refuse to accept 'the unlikelihood of conviction' as a reason to keep this man from facing justice."

(CKNW)