Former Inuvik resident claims RCMP downplayed her report of sexual assault

·6 min read
Born and raised in Inuvik, N.W.T., Angie Snow, pictured, first publicly shared her story on the Preacher Boys podcast with her husband, Norman Snow, earlier this year.  (Submitted by Angie Snow - image credit)
Born and raised in Inuvik, N.W.T., Angie Snow, pictured, first publicly shared her story on the Preacher Boys podcast with her husband, Norman Snow, earlier this year. (Submitted by Angie Snow - image credit)

A former Inuvik, N.W.T., resident says RCMP ignored or downplayed her allegations of childhood sexual assault.

Angie Snow, now 30, says she was abused when she was nine years old.

Born and raised in Inuvik, Snow first publicly shared her story on the Preacher Boys podcast with her husband, Norman Snow, earlier this year. The podcast focuses on alleged mental, physical and sexual abuse within the Independent Fundamental Baptist movement.

On the podcast, she spoke about her time as a member of the First Bible Baptist Church in Inuvik.

She said the assaults happened three times in her childhood home in Inuvik over about a year, although she admits that, decades later, the timeframe is fuzzy.

"I knew it was weird because I froze up completely … But no [I didn't realize it was sexual assault]," Snow said. "When I tried to tell my mom, I obviously didn't do a good job. I didn't have any words to say what was happening."

"As you get older, and older you start to realize oh my gosh, that did happen. And that was abuse."

Eric Skwarczynski is host of the Preacher Boys podcast, which focuses on alleged mental, physical and sexual abuse within the Independent Fundamental Baptist movement.
Eric Skwarczynski is host of the Preacher Boys podcast, which focuses on alleged mental, physical and sexual abuse within the Independent Fundamental Baptist movement.(Submitted by Eric Skwarczynski)

Eric Skwarczynski, host of the Preacher Boys podcast, said most of the guests he speaks to live in the United States, where a statute of limitations can impact charges being able to be laid.

"Victims do often wait to share their experience with anyone 10,15, 20 years down the road," said Skwarczynski.

Reilly Featherstone is pastor for the First Bible Baptist Church in Inuvik. He said he had heard about Snow's allegations second-hand.

He says whenever he hears about any sort of abuse allegations, he encourages the person to report the incident to RCMP.

"It's the RCMP's job to do a thorough investigation on the matter," he said.

Allegations reported to RCMP

Snow says she reported the incidents and her alleged perpetrator to RCMP in Inuvik years after they occurred, when she was about 27 years old, after being contacted by someone who said they were a recent victim of her alleged attacker.

"I got into the RCMP [detachment], sit down and they are like, 'So you want us to keep an eye on him, right?' and I'm like, 'No, I'm here to charge him,'" Snow said on the podcast.

"That was something I was shocked over."

Snow told CBC that it took a lot of mental work for her to get to the point of reporting the alleged incidents to the RCMP, and "getting over the hurdle of 'I'm going to ruin his life' … and 'he's a changed man.'"

Whoever reviewed it just thought there was not enough evidence. - Angie Snow

However, learning there may have been at least one more recent victim was her tipping point.

She also said she wasn't the only one who came forward about the abuse she experienced.

Her parents also gave statements to the RCMP, as well as Jessica Francis, a childhood friend who says she witnessed the assaults. CBC has reviewed email records to RCMP that show Snow shared contact details for Francis and her parents with RCMP. RCMP acknowledged receipt of the information and an officer wrote that all would be contacted.

Snow not alone, but allegations too old

Francis, who now lives in Fort McPherson, N.W.T., also alleges the person who abused Snow attempted to abuse her multiple times as well.

She was the same age as Snow when the assaults happened and told CBC via Facebook Messenger that the perpetrator "didn't go as far with me as he did with Angie."

Both Francis and Snow say they were about 9 years old when the alleged abuse happened, and that their alleged perpetrator was several years older.

Despite both women and Snow's parents giving statements to RCMP about what happened, Snow says she was told they could not continue an investigation.

I felt at least I tried, but then I also felt like, 'shoot, this is not good.' - Angie Snow

"One [RCMP officer] showed up and just kind of told me there was nothing they could do," said Snow. "That whoever reviewed it just thought there was not enough evidence."

She also said she was told that too much time had passed from when the alleged assaults had happened, even though Canada doesn't have a statute of limitations that imposes a time frame on reporting criminal sexual assault complaints.

"I felt at least I tried, but then I also felt like, 'shoot, this is not good.' I did trust them … and took their word for it," she said.

It was also hard for Francis to hear nothing would be done.

"I was really disappointed," Francis said. "Especially because I had given my statement and told them my story and timeline thinking that something would be done but nothing happened.

"I think it makes it very hard for people to come forward with reports of rape, assault or sexual harassment because it just shows how little is being done to bring justice for the victims and how easy it is for people to get away with these things."

An RCMP truck in Inuvik, N.W.T. The police force says they are trying to improve their response to complaints of sexual assault.
An RCMP truck in Inuvik, N.W.T. The police force says they are trying to improve their response to complaints of sexual assault. (David Thurton/CBC)

Snow also remembered being taken aback when RCMP asked her to describe what she was wearing during her alleged assault when she was nine.

"That was another shock," said Snow.

"They need some kind of training and like sexual abuse, gaslighting, just everything like that you could think of like that deals with the brain psychology. I think that would have definitely made things different."

Police 'actively trying to engage' complainant, say RCMP

N.W.T. RCMP spokesperson Marie York-Condon wrote in an email that although she can't speak to specifics about Snow's file, she said an investigation was conducted after the allegations were reported, "including engagement and consultation with the office of Public Prosecution Service."

She also said N.W.T. RCMP are proactively working to improve sexual assault investigations.

"We have taken action to strengthen police training and awareness, investigative accountability, victim support and public education and communication."

York-Condon said RCMP is looking to speak to Snow and "are actively trying to engage her."

As of Thursday, Snow said she still hadn't been contacted by RCMP.

Earlier this month, N.W.T. RCMP held a news conference addressing a review from a committee of advocates, justice officials, and police on how they handle sexual assault allegations.

The review found that while officers generally showed victims respect, some misunderstood consent law, rape myths or included irrelevant personal opinions in their investigations.

During that news conference, RCMP family violence coordinator Jesse Aubin said that officers undergo mandatory training about consent law and common rape myths, and that they are working on a sexual assault investigator course specific to the North.

Two more reviews are scheduled this year: one in April, and another in the fall.

If you have your own story that you'd like to share, email mackenzie.scott@cbc.ca