London Police updated their investigation Multiple reports of sexual harassment and violence at Western University, disclosed on Tuesday that more than 30 students may have been victims in separate incidents.
The school confirmed Monday that it has received four formal complaints of sexual violence from students over the past week and is also looking into additional allegations made on social media over the weekend.
That’s when the university confirmed that one student, 18-year-old Gabriel Neal, died after being attacked near campus. Police said Neil was found seriously injured in the early hours of Saturday and died the next day.
Aaliya Ahmed, 21, has been charged with murder. Western U said the person charged is not a student.
This led the police to begin an investigation into the matter, saying they were aware of “information circulating on social media relating to several sexual assaults”, which reportedly took place at Medway-Sydenham Hall over the weekend.
Investigators said Tuesday officers had received no official reports of drug or sexual assault at Sydenham Hall over the weekend or in recent days.
“Given the seriousness of the allegations made in relation to the incidents at Medway-Sydenham Hall, the London Police Service has launched an investigation, and we work closely with Western University to identify and support any victims.” Will work and ensure there is a thorough investigation,” a London Police spokesman said in a release.
“Two reports were received in a week regarding allegations of sexual harassment taking place at other places on campus. These incidents are being investigated, and part of that investigation will include investigating possible links to any unreported incidents.”
As a father of four young women, I am deeply disappointed to hear about the allegations of sexual assault at Western University last week. All victims of sexual violence deserve justice. Make all students feel safe on campus.https://t.co/ztZ03IocI3
— Doug Ford (@FordNation) September 14, 2021
In response to Premier Doug Ford’s remarks, Western University says the school is working closely with London Police investigating the allegations.
“At this time, Western and LPS have received little information related to social media reports, and we are asking anyone to come forward with more details,” Western University wrote on Twitter.
“Unrelated to what we’re seeing on social media, Western has received four formal complaints of sexual violence from students in the past week.”
Police said on Tuesday that out of the three complaints/sexual harassment reports they received, one involved two victims, which is why three investigations are currently underway, not four.
A student was arrested in connection with those attacks, but he is no longer in police custody. No allegation has been made. Investigators say local media indicated that four people were arrested in their investigation, but they insisted this was not accurate.
A statement from Chris Allene, associate vice president of housing and supporting services, said the school would not tolerate sexual violence.
Allene says that while an investigation is underway, those facing complaints are “cleared, which may include eviction from the premises.” The school has not received any formal complaint from the alleged victims.
“These cases do not seem to be linked to each other or to what we are seeing on social media.”
A shelter home providing aid to Western students is battling allegations
A gender-based violence shelter is setting up a safe space to support students on the campus of Western University in the wake of multiple sexual assault allegations in recent days.
Annalize Trudel, manager of education, training and research at Anova, a local shelter, said counselors will be on campus Wednesday, Thursday and Friday nights to provide drop-in support to students who returned last week.
“Students need a safe space right now,” Trudell said.
“They’ll be able to come in a group space and discuss issues, and our advisors will be different to do that kind of clinical counseling in individual private spaces.”
Several allegations surfaced in Western Orientation Week, which ended over the weekend.
The university said it removed the students from residence and was “facilitating the arrests” linked to the four official complaints, but did not provide any further details on those measures.
Large student parties outside campus caught local politicians and police for violating the province’s social gathering laws.
Western’s student council said Neil was a first-year health science student.
“We know this tragedy will be difficult to process because of how challenging the past few days have been for our student community,” the university student council said in a statement on Tuesday.
“Please take care of yourself and each other. We all deserve to feel safe on campus, and we know our community just isn’t there. “
Trudell said Anova had seen a spike in calls in recent days for its sexual harassment and gender-based violence crisis line, as well as several private messages on social media.
She said Orientation Week is a dangerous time for young women on campuses across the country.
“We see an increase in crisis lines during and after this week in terms of requests for counseling assistance as well as sexual assault centers nationwide,” Trudell said.
According to the Student Voice on Sexual Violence, a survey of post-secondary students across the province, one in three Western students surveyed indicated that they had been sexually assaulted in the past 12 months. More than 8,000 Western students answered the survey.
“That was on the high end,” Trudell said. “But all campuses have sexual assault numbers that are uncomfortably high.”
Western University president Alan Shepard also issued a statement calling the report “disturbing”.
“Let me be very clear: Sexual violence will never be tolerated on our campus,” Sheppard said. “… If you or someone you know has been affected by sexual violence, we have survivor-focused support, including a dedicated gender-based violence and survivor support case manager. Survivors have support options, including disclosure, complaint Including registering and/or requesting support. In emergency situations, Western Key Special Constable Service and St. Joseph’s Health Care Regional Sexual Assault Program are available 24/7.
Shepard says the allegations have resulted in “increased concern for security on campus.”
“Please be assured that this matter is being thoroughly investigated by the LPS, and a suspect from the London community is in custody,” he said.
“We are all experiencing a rough start to the school year – and I am sure no one feels it more deeply than our students. We are here for you.”
With files from Liam Casey of the Canadian Press