Witness breaks up sexual assault at UVic

Police are seeking a key witness who intervened in an assault early Saturday morning

Saanich Police are seeking a key witness who intervened during a sexual assault by a group of males.

The assault happened between midnight and 1 a.m. on Saturday,  when a group of men attacked a woman near the University of Victoria residences next to parking Lot. No. 1. The group managed to get the victim into the woods of Mystic Vale against her will when an unknown person came to her aid.

Police are unwilling to release many details, such as the number of suspects and their descriptions, as they hope to engage additional witnesses.

It was in the woods that the unknown individual intervened and brought an end to the assault. A physical altercation then ensued between the defender and the assailants, the result of which is unknown.

The victim managed to escape and did not suffer any significant injuries or require medical attention, Saanich Police Sgt. Steve Eassie said.

“The victim bravely came forward with this info. She fought diligently, and did everything she could to prevent the attack from happening, at no time did she give in.”

Saanich Police officers were in fact on campus that Friday night, as they ran enhanced patrols with UVic Campus Security, a standard exercise this time of year. Officers attended to assaults, physical assaults and public drunkenness, and identified a number of people who may be contacted during this investigation, Eassie added.

But most of all police would like to speak to the individual who came to victim’s aid. “We’re very interested… they may have a description of the individuals involved and may have witnessed certain things that took place,” Eassie said.

Parking Lot No. 1 is close to the Gordon Head and other housing residences on the campus with multiple trails leading directly into the cover of Mystic Vale.

The victim is a UVic student who detached herself from a larger group and was travelling alone to another gathering. It is unknown at this time if the assailants are UVic students.

The assault comes barely a week after UVic’s Sexual Violence Awareness Week, held Sept. 14 to 18 on campus. It kicked off with an information fair, and the message was clear. In addition, UVic is hosting Taking Down Rape Culture with Laci Green today (Sept. 30).

“Anytime events such as this occur on campus it’s very alarming,” said director of UVic Campus Security Tom Downie. “Through programs (such as Sexualized Violence Week) we make students aware.”

Cases of rape are not rare on campus however what makes this case different is it’s believed the perpetrators and victim are unknown to each other.

“Campus security is available 24/7, 365 days a year. We’re fortunate in some ways that we’re an open campus but issues like this can happen anywhere in any community,” Downie said.

This case is believed to be unrelated to the Sept. 20 incident in which a man followed a young woman on foot. He retreated to a van and then asked if she wanted a ride. She reported his actions as suspicious.

Anyone who may have witnessed the Sept. 26 sexual assault incident or has any information relating to it is asked to call the Saanich Police at 250-475-4321 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477).