15-year-old charged with a string of sexual assaults in a Toronto neighbourhood

TORONTO – A 15-year-old boy has been arrested and charged in connection with a string of sex assaults in a west-end Toronto neighbourhood, police said Monday.

Staff Insp. Mary Lee Metcalfe said the youth, who cannot be identified, was arrested late Saturday night and has been charged with 14 counts of sexual assault and two counts of criminal harassment.

Since August 16, police have received sixteen reports from women who say they were sexually assaulted in the downtown neighbourhood. The most recent incident occurred on Oct. 20, just prior to the arrest, Metcalfe said.

In many of the cases, police said the women were approached from behind and were sexually assaulted by a male who then fled.

Toronto police Chief Bill Blair said he hopes the arrest brings a sense of security back to the community.

“These crimes that took place throughout the month of August and then later in the fall caused a tremendous amount of fear within our community,” he said at a news conference.

“Fear, particularly among women, and their sense of safety in their own neighbourhood was taken from them as a result of these crimes.”

Blair said the arrest could not have been made without the dedication of young female police officers who went undercover.

“We had women in our organization who put themselves in harm’s way, who went out in that community and put themselves at risk, knowing that if they were successful in their mission, they could also be the victim of an assault,” said Blair.

Police said a search warrant was executed late Sunday but would not disclose the location.

Investigators are limited in what they can say about the accused due to restrictions of the Youth Criminal Justice Act.

The youth was scheduled to appear in a Toronto court Monday.