Reporting sexual abuse for youth in care - joint investigations

If you are a youth in care, under the age of 18 and you have experienced a sexual assault, your worker will talk with you to decide if it is a matter for police or if a joint investigation needs to take place.

If the person who engaged you in sexual behaviour is not responsible for you in some way, then it is considered a sexual assault and the police will investigate. (See: Reporting – the legal process)

If the person who abused you is a family member and/or is a person in a position of trust or authority, it is considered sexual abuse and the Society is responsible to protect you from further harm. There will be a joint investigation by the Children’s Aid Society and the Police. The child protection investigator is focussed on determining if you are safe as a result of the sexual abuse; the police investigator is focussed on determining if criminal charges can be laid.[See: Correlates of joint child protection and police child sexual abuse investigations: results from the Canadian Incidence Study of Reported Child Abuse and Neglect–2008]

Reporting Sexual Abuse

  • Before you begin your report, you may ask the investigators to review with you the entire process you can expect to go through for making a report. Making a report will likely involve the police and CAS conducting an audio-visual statement at either the police station, the CAS office or a Child Advocacy Center. YOU CAN TAKE A SUPPORT PERSON WITH YOU.
  • In a joint investigation, there are two roles. The CAS is investigating if you or any other youth are in need of protection as a result of alleged sexual abuse, or any other alleged harm. The police are conducting a criminal investigation to determine if charges can be laid.
  • Once you tell what happened, the CAS worker will need to determine if you are safe (depending on the nature of the report) and the police will need to determine if criminal charges can be laid.
  • The CAS will also need to investigate if the alleged perpetrator is caring for, or in a position of trust and authority with any other youth under the age of 16 years, and if so they will interview those youth to determine if there are other youth who are alleging sexual abuse.
  • Based on the evidence, the Crown Attorney decides to proceed with the case to court or not. A preliminary hearing may take place where a judge decides if the Crown Attorney has enough evidence for a trial.
  • The Crown Attorney is not your lawyer. However, you are considered a key witness for the Crown at these proceedings. The Crown Attorney will schedule meetings to inform you of courtroom procedure and the questions you may be asked.
  • In most areas, a Victim/Witness Assistance Program worker may be available to help prepare you for your role as witness.[To find Victim/Witness Assistance Programs in your area go to the Ministry of Attorney General website]
  • If the case proceeds to court, you will be called as a witness to describe your experience of the sexual assault. Going to court is a very individual experience; some people are empowered to have their story heard, and to face their abuser in court, while others can find it to be a difficult experience.
  • The child protection investigation will also include gathering of information from relevant sources and at the end of that process there will be a decision. It is based on the determination that ‘on a balance of probabilities’ the alleged abuse either did or did not occur. The criminal court test is ‘beyond a reasonable doubt’. Thus the alleged sexual abuse could be verified at the end of the child protection investigation; however the criminal court process will take longer. Even if the criminal court finding is not guilty, the child protection investigative process can verify the sexual abuse. 
  • If the accused is found guilty, they may appeal the sentence.

No matter the outcome, sexual violence is never your fault. Seek support for yourself from friends and family and from sexual assault centre services in your area. There are caring people in every community, reach out and find them.



Further Reading & Resources