Charges laid in connection with 16 attacks in the area.
The Toronto Police Service announced this morning that an arrest has been made in connection with a string of sexual assaults that took place in the Christie Pits neighbourhood over the past two months. Late Saturday night, immediately after an assault near Bloor and Roxton, officers apprehended a 15-year-old male, who cannot be identified further due to Young Offender legislation.
The assaults in question took place between August 16 and October 20, and struck fear into the heart of a community that many generally thought of as safe. In all the reported assaults, women walking alone in the neighbourhood were approached and assaulted from behind, before the assailant fled. The youth arrested on Saturday has been charged with 14 counts of sexual assault and two counts of criminal harassment. (Police today spoke of notifying 16 victims in total, prior to making today’s public announcement, so it appears that as things currently stand they have laid one charge per assault.)
Staff Inspector Mary Lee Metcalfe, of the police sex crimes unit, opened her remarks today by acknowledging “the courage of our complainants and witnesses to bring forward information” as well as thanking the community for its engagement, and for “peaceful assemblies to ensure the issue was always in the forefront” of public awareness.
Many in the public have been wondering why the police have so far declined to provide more details about the exact nature of the assaults. Police Chief Bill Blair maintained that position today, however, saying only that “the offenses here were very serious; they caused a tremendous amount of fear,” but declining to discuss the particulars. He did say that the assailant was not well-known to his victims. Blair also added that “we do have people in our organization who put themselves in harm’s way”—this leaving reporters to wonder (though Blair wouldn’t answer the questions about this) whether a female officer had gone undercover in the course of the investigation and might be Saturday night’s victim.
Blair said he hopes women “can be reassured” by the arrest and the actions of the police in handling this case.