Email this articleE-mail this story  Discuss this articleWrite letter to editor  Discuss this articleOrder a classified ad  Print this page

Teen girl sexually assaulted: police

Andrew Raven
Northern News Services

Yellowknife (July 13/05) - Police believe a 15-year-old Yellowknife girl was attacked in the bushes behind a downtown high school early Saturday morning, following a drunken party with friends.

They have charged a 14-year-old Yellowknife boy with sexual assault and breach of probation in connection with the incident. His name cannot be published because of federal laws that protect the identity of young offenders.

"This situation is not something that we see very often," Royal Canadian Mounted Police Sgt. Darcy Fleury said Monday.

Police arrived at St. Patrick high school shortly after 2 a.m. Saturday where they found the girl passed out in a small wooded area surrounded by picnic tables and broken glass.

Witnesses told investigators the girl was drinking with other teens when she passed out, Fleury said.

Left in the bush

Police believe she was sexually assaulted and left in the bush for at least 40 minutes before they were notified, Fleury said.

There were multiple witnesses, though Fleury declined to discuss details for fear of comprising the investigation.

The girl was taken to Stanton Territorial Hospital where she spent the night under observation, said Cpl. Marc Coloumbe. She was released the following day.

Court appearance

The teenaged suspect was on probation for property offences at the time of his arrest, Fleury said. He was expected to make a brief court appearance yesterday.

Tuesday morning, the area behind St. Patrick high school was littered with cigarettes, beer cans, vodka bottles and a 40-ounce flask of malt liquor. Shattered glass covers most of the small green space, bordered by the high school on one side and office buildings on the other. The area is a popular place for teenagers to party, said one neighbour, who lives in a nearby social housing complex.

"You hear them out there on some nights," said the woman, who declined to give her name. The incident highlights what social-welfare advocate Arlene Hache called the epidemic of sexual assaults against teens.

"Anybody who thinks young girls are not getting raped does not know what is going on," said Hache, head of the Centre for Northern Families.

"Sexual assaults are shockingly common."

There were nearly 4,000 sexual assaults Canada-wide against women under 18 during 2003, according to the federal government. While there were no specific numbers available for the Northwest Territories, the overall rate of sexual assault here is nearly six times the national average.

Hache said those numbers barely scratch the surface; many young girls do not report sexual assaults for fear of ostracism and retribution.