To mark Sexual Assault Awareness Month in May, the Toronto Police Service Sex Crimes investigative section has created two posters of composites of suspects wanted for brutal sexual assaults.
The first is of a male believed to have committed four violent sexual assaults from November 1995 to March 1996 in the McCowan Rd. and Finch Ave. E area.
“It’s alleged that the suspect drove a van and would park behind a victim or approach a victim and ask for some type of assistance relating to the van,” said Unit Commander Inspector Joanna Beaven-Desjardins, at this year’s launch at police headquarters on May 7. “When the victim was in the process of helping this man, the victim would be attacked and sexually assaulted. Despite aggressive efforts to identify this male, we still have not been able to do so and no further information has come forward.”
The second case highlighted occurred in November 2013 in the Jane St. and Highway 401 area.
An elderly woman was sleeping in her residence when a man broke in and violently sexually assaulted her.
Police are seeking the public’s assistance identifying the suspect.
Anyone with information is asked to contact the Sex Crimes Unit at 416-808-7474 or Crime Stoppers anonymously at 416-222-TIPS (8477), online at 222tips.com, text TOR and your message to CRIMES (274637), or Leave A Tip on Facebook. Download the free Crime Stoppers Mobile App on iTunes, Google Play or Blackberry App World.
Beaven-Desjardins also disclosed that Sex Crimes investigators are collaborating with the Transit Patrol and the Toronto Transit Commission to create an education component to address sexual assaults on the city’s transit system.
“We believe the care of the victim is of the utmost importance,” she said. “For us, victims come first.”
Acting Chief Mark Saunders said Sex Crimes investigations have come a long way in the last 25 years when the unit used to be staffed by four officers and two analysts.
“Today, we have 80 specialized investigators and they are among the best in the city and the country,” he said. “While the apprehension and enforcement pieces are important, prevention and making sure we can do things to minimize this type of offence from happening again is equally critical. The victim maintenance piece is important.”
Toronto Police Services Board Chair Alok Mukherjee said sexual assault remains a widespread and ongoing issue.
“It’s critical that we consistently shine a light on the egregious crime and that we empower victims to come forward, giving them the tools to do so effectively.
“…While law enforcement agencies understandingly focus much of their resources and efforts on the criminal investigation as part of sexual assault, we must also recognize the tremendous importance of ensuring that a comprehensive and useful array of services is in place to support the victims of this crime. Sexual assault leaves a deep, lasting and complex impact on its victim or target. It’s a multiple impact on several levels, physical, emotional and psychological.”
Victim Services Toronto Executive Director Bonnie Levine said sex crimes are a pervasive and systemic worldwide problem that can’t be easily addressed.
“We absolutely have to work together to provide survivor care and protection,” she said. “We have to work at all levels of society, including with individuals, our communities and at macro and government levels. For those who have been sexually assaulted, our goal is to help them move from victim to survivor. It’s a very personal journey, but we can help individuals get there by mobilizing and surrounding them with a safe and supportive environment.”