Youth in custody after woman sees indecent act on UVic chip trail

A youth has been arrested in connection with a Sunday evening incident on a University of Victoria trail in which a woman was yelled at by someone who then began masturbating. Saanich police are investigating whether similar recent incidents are linked to this one.

On Sunday, the woman was walking on a well-used trail near Gordon Head Road about 6 p.m. when she noticed a young man close to bushes. She walked by him, turned around when he yelled and saw the indecent act occur, police said.

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UVic security was called and quickly located a suspect. Saanich police arrived to make the arrest.

Police are recommending a single charge of performing an indecent act, but are also investigating other similar incidents and could send more charges to Crown counsel for approval.

The youth is being held in custody.

Two other incidents were reported in the vicinity, one on Saturday and one Sept. 5.

On Saturday, an 18-year-old woman who had been jogging said a man grabbed her buttocks about 7:50 p.m. She said the man was riding a road bike with a speaker attached to the handlebars and was playing rap music. A skateboard was secured to the back of the bike.

The man in that case was described as 19 to 21 and about five-foot-seven. He was wearing a grey baseball cap backwards and grey sweatpants.

The Saturday report prompted security staff to hang warning posters on campus, and security was stepped up, UVic security director Tom Downie said. “Because of the event we had that caused the posting on Saturday, there were more foot patrols, more bike patrols.”

Downie said the posters will remain in place for now. “We still want people to be aware of their surroundings, so I won’t be taking them down right away,” Downie said. “I think it’s important that they know the event took place, to be aware, to be cautious.”

He suggested that runners listening to electronic devices keep one ear free “so you know what’s going on.”

On Sept. 5, Oak Bay police received a report from a 43-year-old woman that a man had tried to grab her as she jogged near Ring Road about 6:45 a.m. She stepped away and then confronted the man, prompting him to flee on his mountain bike.

The woman said she had seen the man the day before. He stepped out of bushes on Gordon Head Road and began to approach, then turned away. The suspect appeared to be in his 20s. He was wearing a black hoodie.

Maxwell Nicholson of the UVic Students’ Society said it is sobering to hear about such incidents.

The students’ society is marking Sexual Violence Awareness Week, Nicholson said. “What we’re doing is a lot of outreach, interacting with students, talking about consent. Especially in light of these incidents it, of course, increases the importance of the work now, more than ever.”

Saanich police continue to investigate a previous series of indecent acts and sexual assaults in the Gordon Head area, including a cluster of five incidents from July 4 to 7. The reports first involved a man on a skateboard and then a man on a bicycle.

A suspect exposed himself and women were twice touched in a sexual manner, with all incidents happening in the late afternoon or early evening.

Saanich police believe that the five early-July incidents and up to six others in June and July could involve one person. The suspect is described as a short white man with a dark complexion between the ages of 20 to 30.

Anyone with information is asked to call Saanich police at 250-475-4321.

jwbell@timescolonist.com

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