PRINCE GEORGE, B.C. – Six people face sex assault, assault and unlawful confinement charges in a case that police in north-central British Columbia say is horrific and disturbing.
The charges come after police in Prince George, B.C., found an unconscious teenage male beaten and sexually assaulted in a snowbank Monday night.
He remains in hospital in serious but stable condition.
Police said a second youth was also found in the area and had been assaulted. He was treated and released from hospital.
Police aren’t releasing the ages of either victim.
Hayden Alwood, 18, and 20-year-old Mercedes Jewett have been charged with aggravated sexual assault, aggravated assault, assault causing bodily harm and two counts of unlawful confinement.
Jewett was to appear in a Prince George courtroom Friday, while Alwood will appear Jan. 16.
Four juveniles, who can’t be named, are accused of the same charges. Two of them are 15, including a female, and the other two are 17 years old.
All six will remain in custody for now.
A posting on Facebook by someone identifying themselves as Mercedes Jewett from Prince George says she is originally from Thunder Bay and studied at “Ghetto University.” It lists her as a graduate of the Teen Mothers Alternative Program. The page makes reference to a recent breakup with a boyfriend and includes some blatantly racist photos of blacks.
RCMP Cpl. Craig Douglass said in an interview the crime was not gang-related, nor racially motivated.
The Jewett Facebook page lists among her friends a Hayden Alwood, who has inscribed his Facebook page with the tag “Kill people, burn (stuff.)” The slogan mirrors a rap song on YouTube with similar wording.
In the days after the two victims were discovered, police determined the victims were targeted and lured to an apartment building where they were assaulted by a group of people, said Douglass.
“Definitely unusual, definitely disturbing, definitely something that we are not accustomed to seeing, and I guess we’ll just have to wait through the court proceedings and see how that goes,” Douglass said in an interview.
He said police believe they have a motive but they won’t speak about it publicly.
A police request for public help has also been successful, he said.
“Investigators have received several tips since our first media release,” Douglass said in a news release. “This investigation remains a priority for the Prince George RCMP and every tip will be followed up.”
Attorney General Shirley Bond said it was inappropriate for her to comment on the case because there is an active police investigation and court action is underway.
“Whether an incident like this takes place in Prince George or any other city, it is extremely disturbing and unacceptable,” she said in an email to The Canadian Press.
Don Wright, founder of the Vancouver-based B.C. Society for Male Survivors of Sexual Abuse, called the case “pretty horrendous and “pretty outrageous.”
Founded 23 years ago, the society provides therapy for males who have been sexually abused, and Wright said it was the first society of its kind in Canada.
While he knows few background details about the case, he said he’s not surprised a male was the victim because such sexual assaults are more common than people believe, especially in prisons.
Wright said males are sometimes sexually assaulted as an act of humiliation, and victims feel like their masculinity has been taken away.
“It’s not necessarily about sex or sexual attraction,” he said.
Wright also said he doesn’t know of anybody in Prince George who has been trained to deal specifically with male survivors of sexual abuse, although that doesn’t mean counsellors aren’t available.
He suggested the victim contact the B.C. Association of Clinical Counsellors for assistance, but the therapist he finds may have a background in dealing with female victims.
“The alternative would be to move to Vancouver where he can get treatment from us,” he said.