York students fear for their safety after sex assault
Published Wednesday, April 21, 2010 3:01PM EDT
A 20-year-old York University student is recovering in hospital after suffering what police describe as a "severe sexual assault" near the school's campus.
Police say they are searching for three men who are believed to have been involved in the attack.
The young woman was approached by three men she didn't know as she entered her residence on Murray Ross Parkway late Tuesday night.
Police say the suspects -- who were all wearing hoodies -- threatened her, took her to a secluded, grassy area and sexually assaulted her. She then ran home and called 911.
The woman suffered "very serious" injuries during the attack, police said.
"She was examined at the hospital and obviously we're doing everything we can to help her," Det. Const. Colin Stewart told CTV Toronto Wednesday afternoon.
Officers with the Toronto police sex crimes unit spent Wednesday canvassing the area looking for witnesses to the attack.
The residence on Murray Ross Parkway is not officially affiliated with the university, though it houses many students and is located adjacent to the campus. The assault took place just off a path that connects the building to the school.
Nonetheless, students say the incident makes them nervous about their safety, particularly because there have been safety concerns about the area in the past. A safety audit completed just last week recommended changes.
One person said bushes beside the path provide cover for a potential attacker to hide.
"Usually when I walk home, I walk home with at least two or three people," said one female student who lives in the area. "That way if anything happens, we're in numbers but something can always happen still."
Local councillor Anthony Perruzza said the city has tried to make the area safer.
"We're going to continue to make it safer," he said. "As soon as the park is built out, we're going to have better lighting, the bush is going to be cut back even further."
Last week on April 14, a judge sentenced a former York University student to eight years in jail for sexually assaulting two women on campus in 2007.
School officials say since then, they have worked with campus security to make the area safer for students. Several surveillance cameras have been installed on campus and students are provided with a shuttle and escore service.
The school will work with police on this latest incident, officials said.
With a report from CTV Toronto's Naomi Parness