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This article was published 9/2/2018 (639 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
WINNIPEG police aren’t likely to open an investigation into accusations of sexual harassment against former finance minister Stan Struthers unless one is requested.
"If we were asked to start (an investigation), we would. We wouldn’t do it based on media reports," spokesman Const. Rob Carver said Friday.
But Carver said offences may have occurred, judging from the complaints reported in the media this week.
"I can tell you that if you touch someone and it is unwanted and unasked for, it’s basic assault under the Criminal Code," he said.
And the alleged victims would not necessarily have to make the request to police, he said, adding that could come from someone close to the women, a political party or the government.
"So we could look at it without a victim, but we can’t lay charges without a victim," he said.
Carver was not aware of any complaints to police from of any of the women who’ve accused Struthers of improper touching.
Seven women have come forward and complained publicly about the former NDP cabinet minister who represented the Dauphin-Roblin riding from 1995 to 2016. Struthers was reportedly referred to as Minister Tickles by some female government staff and bureaucrats.
Shannon VanRaes, a former government communications staff member, alleges that in two separate incidents, Struthers reached under her skirt attempting to grope her and grabbed her foot, moving it toward his crotch.
She told the Free Press Friday she hasn’t decided whether she’ll take the matter to police.
"I wouldn’t say it is ruled out," she said.
Carver said the situation is different than the one involving disgraced movie mogul Harvey Weinstein, in which New York City police launched an investigation based on media reports of his alleged history of sex crimes.
"Different country, different place," Carver said.
"I know it’s very difficult for us with the parameters we have to assign investigators to look into something where no one has complained."
Cases of unwanted sexual touching would have to be linked with something else, such as a missing persons report or homicide, for police to investigate without complainant, he said.
Sexual assault is unwanted physical contact "where there are primary overtures that are sexual in nature," he said.
Bill Redekop has been covering rural issues since 2001.
Updated on Saturday, February 10, 2018 at 7:50 AM CST: Edited