WARNING: This story contains graphic details that may be triggering to some readers.
A Vernon mother is offering a warning to other parents, saying her daughter was sexually assaulted by a senior aged high school boy who was grooming her for sex.
The mother, whose name we are withholding to protect the identity of her daughter, alleges the 17-year-old boy was “stalking” her daughter at school, to the point where a teacher felt so uneasy she brought the daughter away from the boy in the cafeteria to finish lunch in her classroom.
The mother says she wishes the teacher had contacted her after feeling uneasy.
“Not that it’s the teacher’s fault by any means … I just want to make teachers well aware if there’s something abnormal or something giving them an eerie feeling, right away tell the parents,” she said.
That might have prepared her for what came next. The mother says her daughter invited the boy over for dinner in late January, this after he “tormented” her at school to get her to invite him over. During that visit, the mom says he sexually assaulted her daughter “under our noses,” as the mother and her boyfriend were in the house at the time.
“(He) took his window of opportunity and hurt my daughter in a very violent manner. She’s been very traumatized … and he did it so fast,” she said.
The mother says the boy had been grooming her daughter, telling her she was beautiful and making her feel pretty and seen by an older boy.
The mother says she has pursued legal action, and the boy was arrested and put on probation after he was released.
“I’m totally prepared to fight this fight with my girl, because he needs to know right from wrong, and in my heart I know this isn’t his first time,” she said.
The Vernon North Okanagan RCMP wouldn’t confirm the arrest as the case involved youth, but media relations officer Const. Chris Terleski said all reports of sexual offences are investigated to the fullest extent.
“We want our community to know that if you report a sexual assault to police, you will be treated with dignity, respect, and kindness,” Terleski said in an email. “We are here to help and work closely with our partner agencies in our communities to ensure sexual assault survivors have access to resources and receive the wrap around support they need.”
The mother said the incident was “absolutely gut wrenching,” and fears other families may have gone through the same thing.
“I worry he has other victims,” she said.
“I didn’t want her to be an adult until she had to be and now this has all been thrown at her,” she added. “This poor little girl wishes she never turned 16.”
The mother hopes her child’s story can be a cautionary tale for other parents or guardians to be on guard, and consider meeting older high school boys in a public place before inviting them into their home.
“Even if it just helps one person.”
And for kids who may have been sexually abused, “knowing that they’re not alone is the biggest thing.”
The mother says it would help if Vernon had a junior high school, rather than having younger girls enter high school with boys as many as five years older than them.
“Hands down I believe there should be middle schools and Armstrong is the only community that I know of around here that even has a middle school.”
Asked about the “stalking” at school, Vernon School District superintendent Christine Perkins said in an email that “everyone in our schools are instructed to report concerns to counsellors, vice principals, principals and other trusted adults. All know they can contact the RCMP and a host of other community resources. Educators know they have a duty to report.”
Perkins pointed to resources for kids, including the Kids Help Phone (text CONNECT to 686868 or call 1-800-668-6868), the Indigenous Helpline (1-800-588-8717) and the Trans Lifeline (translifeline.org).