Victoria police say they have arrested a man accused of assaulting a missing 15-year-old in a tent in Beacon Hill Park on Tuesday night.
The incident happened Tuesday at around 10 p.m. Paramedics were called to Beacon Hill Park, near Douglas Street and Circle Drive, after responding to a medical call.
When medical responders first arrived on scene, they learned that a 15-year-old had been assaulted and choked in a tent, leading them to call Victoria Police.
When officers arrived, VicPD says the campers began interfering with the victim’s medical treatment, encouraging the victim not to speak with authorities, and to leave “physically grabbing the victim and pulling them away,” reads a statement.
Police note that campers were also encouraging the victim to not go to hospital for medical treatment or leave the area.
“This was in no way a safe environment for a 15-year-old who had just been a victim of a violent assault at the hands of a well-known criminal,” said Victoria Police Constable Cam MacIntyre told CHEK News.
“So (Victoria Police) formed the grounds to apprehend the 15-year-old. When that happened, there was a struggle with the 15-year-old, with one or more members of the community camping in that park.”
But those sheltering temporarily in Beacon Hill Park have a different story. They allege police used excessive force with the victim and came to her defence.
“She just kept begging them ‘please, I’m having an anxiety attack, I’m trying to get over it, please back off and leave me alone, and let me get my shit together,” said Donna White who witnessed the takedown.
“And they weren’t, they were getting more aggressive!”
But Victoria police say, given the age of the victim, who they haven’t yet confirmed was female, their actions were necessary.
“I think they wanted to remain in Beacon Hill Park, but given what had happened to them, you saw the charges that are recommended here, assault, assault by choking, sexual interference as well as sexual exploitation, in no way shape or form did we feel that was a safe environment for that youth,” said Constable MacIntyre.
Paramedics treated the victim for non-life-threatening but potentially life-altering injuries.
The suspect of the tent assault had already left the area by the time the police arrived.
Police say they found and arrested the man at around 4 p.m. Wednesday in Beacon Hill Park.
He faces charges of assault, assault by choking, assault with a weapon, sexual interference and sexual exploitation, and is being held in custody pending a court appearance.
Anyone with information is asked to call Victoria police’s report desk at 250-995-7654 extension 1, or anonymously through Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.