Six attacks, one suspect in UBC sex assaults: RCMP 0
“We want the attacks to stop. We want these crimes solved … safety of the Vancouver campus is now our No. 1 priority.”
— Louise Cowin, UBC vice-president
The University of B.C. is posting security guards at each of its residential compounds after police announced Tuesday the number of attacks believed to be perpetrated by the same man on campus has doubled to six.
The latest attack happened this past Sunday as a student walked alone around 1:30 a.m. and noticed a shadow behind her, police said. She was grabbed, but flailed her arms and the attacker fled.
Sgt. Peter Thiessen said the suspect in all six cases is described as Caucasian and possibly tanned. His age ranges from mid to late 20s to early 30s. The suspect has a thin build and stands about 5-foot-8 to 6-foot-2. He has short, dark hair, a “broad” forehead and possesses a round chin and face with a straight nose.
The detailed description was released after police identified two past incidents of groping, on April 19 and May 19, in which two women were grabbed from behind.
The more recent incidents appear to be increasing in frequency. One attack occurred in September with three reported in October so far.
Louise Cowin, a UBC vice-president, said the campus is starting a “RezWalk” escort program to bring students from residential common areas to their buildings. That’s in addition to the current security measures, which include some surveillance cameras and another escorted walk program for students at night.
Police didn’t release further details about Sunday’s case. However, according to police, there are some similar patterns in the five previous cases: all the victims were women, they were all wearing skirts, and they were all approached from behind.
In the September case, the victim was grabbed by the waist and brought to another area as the assault continued. In an October incident, a 17-year-old victim was grabbed by the hips and punched in the face.
One pattern among stalker-type offenders is they generally pick out features of targets that appeal to them, said Dr. Bill Coleman, an ex-Canada Correctional Service psychologist who has also worked with sex offenders in the B.C. Ministry of Health.
“It can be young, it can be tall, it can be blond — something that piques the interest of the offender,” he said, adding not all offenders fit into established patterns.
“Often being vulnerable is one of the characteristics. Maybe if they were intoxicated? That’s another way of a person being vulnerable.”
Mounties ask those with tips to call 778-290-5291.