A man accused of choking and sexually interfering with a 15-year-old in a tent in Beacon Hill Park has been arrested.
The suspect was located in the park on Wednesday afternoon and taken to police cells.
The teenager is developmentally delayed and suffered what police call potentially life-altering injuries.
Shortly after 10 p.m. Tuesday, police were called to the park after a report that a teen had been assaulted and choked in a tent.
Paramedics responding to a medical call about the teen alerted police when they learned the victim had been assaulted.
When the officers arrived, they found a number of campers standing near the paramedics, “interfering with the victim’s medical treatment.”
Victoria police say two responding officers were assaulted by people camping in the park, who obstructed the police investigation and interfered with attempts by paramedics to treat the teenager’s injuries. One officer was bitten, while another was spit upon, police said.
“When officers attempted to speak with the victim, numerous people who are camping in the park began to intervene, urging the victim to not speak with officers, to not go to hospital for medical treatment, and to leave the area,” the department said in a statement.
“They began confronting the officers and paramedics and continued to urge the 15-year-old victim to leave the area, physically grabbing the victim and pulling them away.”
Fearing for the victim’s safety, the officers took the teenager into custody under the Child, Family and Community Service Act, the department said. A struggle ensued involving the campers, officers and the teen, prompting police to call for backup, the department said.
Eventually, the victim was carried to an ambulance and taken to hospital. The teen, who had been reported missing Tuesday night, is believed to be back home.
Police had said in a statement they were looking for a 38-year-old suspect with numerous recent charges for assault and breaching court conditions.
The suspect remains in VicPD cells awaiting a court appearance. The man faces several recommended charges in connection with the incident, including assault, assault by choking, assault with a weapon, sexual interference and sexual exploitation.
The case remains under investigation.
Anyone with information about the incident is asked to call the VicPD Report Desk at 250-995-7654 ext 1. To make an anonymous report, call Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.