Victoria councillor apologizes for 'rape culture' comment, plans to form city task force
VICTORIA -- A Victoria councillor is apologizing after saying there is no “rape culture” in Victoria in the wake of serious allegations of widespread sexual assaults in the city.
Coun. Stephen Andrew took to Twitter on Sunday to say recent “allegations must be investigated,” and said city council should “wait for conclusive facts” before commenting on the cases.
Allegations of sexual assaults have been rampant in recent months in Victoria’s restaurant, tattoo and real estate industries. Andrew’s online comments drew swift criticism from sexual assault survivors and advocates who accused the councillor of undermining the credibility of survivors who come forward.
Andrew told CTV News on Monday that his now-deleted post on social media was “clumsy” and “dismissive.”
“I do believe that allegations are allegations until they are proven,” Andrew said. “However, we must provide support, we must provide counsel and we must listen to those who are making the allegations.”
Andrew, who was elected to Victoria council in a byelection in December, said he now plans to table a motion at Thursday’s council meeting to address sex assault allegations and ensure they are investigated by police.
The councillor will recommend the city government form a task force to bring together survivors, advocates and the justice system.
“Clearly, over the past 48 hours it has been identified to me there’s a rape culture in Victoria,” Andrew said Monday. “I’m going to bring a solution to the table that is going to try to improve the situation and I hope that my fellow councillors will support that.”
Andrew said his only intent with the tweet was to ensure criminal allegations are investigated by police.
“I’ve vowed to do better,” Andrew said. “I’m getting more education on that on an hour-by-hour basis.”