A former detective with the Toronto police sex crimes unit told CBC Radio’s Metro Morning on Wednesday that a series of sex assaults over the Thanksgiving weekend in neighbourhoods near Christie Pits Park will likely require the work of undercover officers to solve.
Three sexual assaults were reported over the Thanksgiving neighbourhood in which women were approached from behind and assaulted as they walked down residential streets at night.
Two assaults on Saturday night happened within minutes of each other. In each reported incident, the suspect fled immediately after the assault.
Saturday’s assaults happened on Montrose Avenue near College Street while the third was reported Sunday on Grace Street near Bloor Street West, close to Christie Pits Park.
The assaults are similar to a series of prior attacks that occurred in the Bloor/Christie area over the summer. In total there have been 13 sexual assaults reported in the area since the summer.
Toronto police say they cannot confirm if the assaults are linked to the same assailant.
Dave Perry, who is now CEO of private firm Investigative Solutions, told Metro Morning host Matt Galloway that offenders in such assault cases can sometimes trip themselves up.
"Sexual offenders do develop patterns that sometimes are quite unique to themselves and those give us clues to focus on," he said. "I’m sure that [police] are using undercover officers. They are going to focus on what it is we know about this individual."
Perry said he knows of a similar case in which the culprit was caught after police studied the patterns of the reported assaults and suspect description reports and deployed their officers accordingly.
"They came up with an individual that matched those things and eventually that netted a DNA sample that got the suspect arrested very quickly," he said.
Perry said he has confidence in the Toronto authorities to catch the person responsible.
"Toronto has the best sex-crimes unit that I’ve ever worked in or worked with," he said.
Women express frustration, anger
Meanwhile, women who live and work in the Bloor and Christie area where the assaults took place expressed frustration over the lost sense of security in what are generally considered to be safe neighbourhoods.
Many were angry that the assaults happened out on the street.
"I have lived here on and off for about six years and I used to feel a lot more safe," one woman told Metro Morning. "I’m definitely a little bit more guarded than I used to be."
"It actually bothers me a lot because I’m not from a big city," said another woman when asked about the assaults. "Just moving here kind of freaks me out quite a bit. I try not to travel alone and that’s basically how I’ve been dealing with it."
Another woman who spoke to Metro Morning said it’s unfortunate that women in the area are now questioning the safety of their neighbourhood.
"It’s sad that Toronto has gotten to that point where you kind of have to watch your back as a woman," she said.