A male teenager accused of sexually assaulting more than a dozen women in Toronto’s Bloor and Christie area will stay in custody.
A justice of the peace issued a detention order for a 15-year-old male on Monday afternoon, hours after police announced he had been charged in connection with a string of sexual assaults in which women were attacked from behind as they walked at night.
Toronto police say the teen — who cannot be named under the Youth Criminal Justice Act — was arrested at around 11 p.m. ET Saturday in the area of Bloor Street West and Roxton Road, at the scene of another alleged sexual assault.
He faces 14 counts of sexual assault and two counts of criminal harassment.
The more than a dozen assaults date back to the summer.
"We believe we have the person responsible for these assaults," said police Chief Bill Blair, who was at a Monday news conference to announce the charges. "These [are] crimes that ... caused a tremendous amount of fear within our community.
"Fear, particularly among women, and their sense of safety in their own neighbourhood was taken from them as a result of these crimes."
Female officers 'put themselves in harm's way'
Blair said the arrest could not have happened without the dedication of young female police officers who went undercover.
"We had women in our organization who put themselves in harm's way, who went out in that community and put themselves at risk, knowing that if they were successful in their mission, they could also be the victim of an assault," said Blair.
Blair said the investigation remains open and encouraged anyone with information about the assaults to contact police.
Staff Insp. Mary Lee Metcalfe, commander of the sex crimes unit, said it is unusual for a youth to be accused of such serious charges.
"It is not something that we encounter on a regular basis but in this particular set of occurrences, we are confident that we have the proper person charged and before the courts," she said.
Assaults prompt rally
Three almost identical assaults occurred over the Thanksgiving weekend. They were reported on Grace Street near Bloor Street West and two within five minutes on Montrose Avenue near College Street.
At the time, police could not confirm whether the Thanksgiving weekend attacks were connected to a series of similar assaults dating back to the summer. In total, 13 such assaults have been reported.
The attacks prompted hundreds of people to take part in a September rally to symbolically take back the area around Christie Pits Park.
"After the initial shock of some of the assaults, what's happened is it's actually really galvanized the community," local Coun. Mike Layton said on CBC's Metro Morning on Monday.
"Immediately following the first round of announcements of them, it brought people out onto the street and people taking back the street, and [had them] saying, 'You know what? We're not going to have this in our community.'"