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Q.   What does a sexual offender look like?
There is really no way to tell for sure if a person might be a sex offender because the offender usually looks as normal as anyone else.  Sometimes there may be no clues even in the way a person acts.  You may be concerned about someone's behaviour if a person makes rude sexual comments towards you, bugs you to have sex when you don't want to, follows you around, or if a person has sexually assaulted someone else.
Q.   Should a person who has been sexually assaulted report it to the police?
We know that sometimes victims are embarrassed that people will think they "let it happen," or they are afraid, ashamed or worried that nobody will believe them.  Maybe they're worried about what will happen to them, their family, or their friends.
Here are some important things to consider when you're trying to decide if and when you will report a sexual assault:
  • Reporting can be helpful to your emotional healing.
  • Reporting can give the offender the message that it's not okay to commit a sexual assault against you or anyone else.
  • Physical evidence can play an important role in proving a sexual assault case.  It's important to collect physical evidence as soon as possible after the assault.
  • The longer you wait to report a sexual assault, the more physical evidence is lost.  This makes it more difficult to prove that it happened.
  • You may have difficulty remembering some of the details of the assault if you wait too long to report it.


Q.   How many years after you've been sexually assaulted can you turn the person in?
There is no time limit on when you can report a sexual assault.  However, reporting it as soon as possible may increase the chances of proving a sexual assault case.
If I report that I've been sexually assaulted what will happen?
You can report a sexual assault right away by calling 911 or your local emergency number.  An Emergency Call Operator will tell you what to do next.  A police officer will come and talk with you to find out what happened and will write a report.  A specially-trained plainclothes police officer will then investigate.  If the assault occurred within the past three days, the operator or police officer may encourage you to attend a Sexual Assault Care Centre at the hospital, or to an Emergency Department.  This is to make sure you are not injured and to discuss the possibility of having a Sexual Assault Evidence Kit completed.

If you're under 16 years old and have been assaulted by a family member or you are at risk of further abuse, a Children's Aid worker will participate in a joint investigation with police to make sure you're safe.
Q.   Do I have any choices about what the police will do?
A.   Yes.  You can choose to take the investigation in three different directions.

  1. NO FURTHER ACTION:  The police will write a report and it will be filed for safe keeping.
  2. OFFENDER CAUTIONED:  The police will write a report and will tell the offender about the information they received. The offender is cautioned about his/her behaviour.
  3. CHARGES LAID:  If the police and Crown Attorney think they can prove to a judge that you were sexually assaulted, you may have the offender charged.
No matter which way you want it handled the police will register the offender on the national Violent Crime Linkage/Analysis System (VICLAS).  VICLAS helps police track violent offenders and sex offenders throughout all of Canada.

Your case is kept confidential but there are laws governing what police and/or the Children's Aid Society must do to ensure the safety of individuals under 16 years of age.  This is on a case-by-case basis.
Q.   If the offender gets found "not guilty" will I be called a liar or get arrested?
You will not be called a liar if the offender gets found "not guilty".  You will not be arrested if the offender is found "not guilty."

The Crown Attorney and the police will do their best to prove the truth.  Sometimes the law can be complicated, so even if someone is guilty, they can still be found "not guilty" of the charges.
Q.   What punishment will a sexual offender get?
A judge must listen to the evidence in court.  If the judge finds the offender guilty, she/he must decide on the right sentence.  The Criminal Code of Canada sets out rules for what sentence the judge may choose.

You can let the judge know how the sexual assault affected you, by writing a letter.  This is called a 'Victim Impact Statement'.  This information will also be used to decide the sentence.
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