Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Motivational speaker wrongly arrested for sexual assault

Myles Himmelreich, a Calgary-based motivational speaker with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder, was wrongly accused of sexual assault. Here is his story, as reported here:

Last October, Calgary police released a grainy photo that showed Himmelreich, along with a statement they were looking for the man in the photo as a suspect in a sexual assault. It ran all over the local media.

It's the kind of publicity no public speaker seeks, and since Himmelreich could prove he was speaking at a conference in Vancouver at the time, it should have been easy to clear up.

It wasn't.

Himmelreich told the story in Winnipeg Tuesday -- how he called the detective in charge, how he was forced through a humiliating arrest scene at his gym and cuffed in front of his friends, all before he could see the detective.

Worst of all, he was released without any official confirmation he'd been falsely accused. What he did next turned an embarrassing public episode and potential ruinous criminal record into a public success story that cleared his name.

Children and Youth Opportunities Minister Kevin Chief, in the audience Tuesday, nudged a reporter as Himmelreich launched into the ordeal and said "Listen to this. This is a powerful story."

Himmelreich said he didn't fall apart, nor did he sue the police.

He hired a lawyer, sought help from family and friends and gave the whole miserable incident a lot of thought.
Then he went to the police, got a TV interview with the local Global station and did what he does best: talk about the arrest, how a false accusation can damage an innocent person and offer a face-saving way for the police to make amends without spending a penny.

He gained a lot of new allies to his cause and a promise from the Calgary police to attend a talk of his on FASD.

"You know," Himmelreich said after the presentation, "I could have overreacted. As I sat in that van, I thought 'I can act differently or I can act in a way that it is going to make a change.' I sat in that van, and I knew I needed to do the right thing, which was keep calm and just keep moving forward."