RCMP confirmed Friday morning they are investigating numerous reports of inappropriate touching at a dance held for athletes during the BC Summer Games in Cowichan last weekend.
BC Games Society President and CEO Kelly Mann told Black Press Media Thursday that a police file has been opened, and he’s urging any other athletes to come forward after as many as 30 girls said they were groped by fellow athletes.
Officers are working towards confirming the events that took place and identifying all of the athletes involved, RCMP Staff Sarg. Annie Linteau said in a release on Friday.
“While we have initiated an investigation into these allegations, it is imperative that anyone who may have been a victim or witnessed the incident contact police so the matter can be thoroughly investigated,” she said.
A dance was held for the young athletes on Saturday night at the Cowichan Exhibition Centre. The event included a DJ, as well as activities both in the centre and outside including badminton, volleyball and a photo booth.
Mann said a number of girls told volunteers and BC Games staff that evening that a group of boys were pinching and grabbing their buttocks, as well as groping them in the middle of the dance floor.
Mann said as many as 40 volunteers, coaches and staff were supervising the hundreds of athletes there.
“It was just in a crowded area and some idiots decided they would try to get away with something,” Mann said, who added the room was not dimly lit but did have dozens of kids streaming in and out of it.
The dance portion was stopped shortly after the claims were made to supervisors.
Mann said the BC Games Society contacted the RCMP with the reported allegations on Sunday. Staff also sent letters to the parents and guardians of each girl who reported the unwanted touching with RCMP contact information and victim service support information.
Mann said no suspects have been identified.
“We know they are BC Games athletes, but we don’t know if it’s Billy or Johnny, and because we don’t know their names we don’t know what bloody sport they are in.”
Last weekend’s Games saw 2,300 athletes descend on the Cowichan Valley to compete in 18 different sports. Athletes ranged in age from as young as 10 years old to 17, aside from Special Olympics athletes who could be older.
Mann couldn’t confirm the ages of the alleged victims, but did say none are 10 years old, nor Special Olympics athletes.
“If an athlete is found to be in violation of the code of conduct, we have a zero tolerance for this kind of thing,” he said. “This is no way how the Cowichan Games should be remembered.”
Anyone with information on the inciden is asked to contact the Duncan-North Cowichan RCMP at 250-748-5522.