Laval University 'wholeheartedly' sides with victims after reports of sexual touching

Laval University is condemning a series of assaults reported Friday overnight at one of its residences, some of which Quebec City police say were of a sexual nature.

Police still on lookout for at least 1 suspect, man in his 20s who roamed hallways of residence last Friday

Security guards are now patrolling all of Laval University's residences 24/7 after police received several reports of sexual touching and breaking and entering at the Alphonse-Marie-Parent residence. (Aude Brassard-Hallé/Radio-Canada)

Laval University is condemning a series of assaults reported Friday overnight at one of its residences, some of which Quebec City police say were of a sexual nature.

Ten people filed reports with police regarding incidents involving at least one suspect, a man in his twenties who was roaming the hallways of Alphonse-Marie-Parent residence and knocking on doors. 

The alleged incidents, reported mostly by women, included four complaints of a sexual nature, ranging from sexual touching to assault, as well as complaints of breaking and entering. 

''Right now we are looking for one suspect. We are trying to find a better description, but for now we have conflicting testimonies," said Const. Pierre Poirier, a spokesman for Quebec City police.

Students 'followed' into residence

Student Philbert Bagilimana says he's friends with some of the victims. They were 'feeling bad' after the incident but are doing better with support from friends. (Julia Page/CBC)
One student who said he is friends with some of the alleged victims said the university has to do a better job of monitoring who goes in and out of the residences.

''They told me people followed them inside, and they started knocking on their doors at around 4 or 5 a.m. They stayed there 5 [to]10 minutes, asking, 'Can we come in and spend a moment together?'" said chemical engineering student Philbert Bagilimana.

The complainants were "feeling bad" after the incidents but were doing better with help from friends, Bagilimana said.

Students worry about their safety

A sign in support of the alleged victims could be seen taped to the door at the entrance of the Alphonse-Marie-Parent residence Monday morning. 

"We are with you. You are not alone. Hold on," it read, in French.

The sign included a translation of a quote from the widely shared courtroom statement of the victim in the Stanford University sexual assault case. Student Brock Turner, convicted in that case, served just three months of a six-month sentence.

The incident has left some students at Laval University second-guessing their safety on campus.

"I was very shocked and very saddened by the news. I've always felt very safe here, and I think it's a shame that it happened here. I'll definitely be more careful, and close my door and watch my back," said Victoire Coraly, a master's student who has lived in residence since 2012.

A sign posted in support of the victims at the entrance of the Alphonse-Marie-Parent residence. (Julia Page/CBC)

University residence now under 24/7 surveillance

The university said it has tightened security, and all four residences on campus are now being monitored 24/7 by security guards.

Police are working with security on campus and reviewing security cameras in the entry way and hallways.

Students have also received an email reminding them to lock their doors and be vigilant.

"We are wholeheartedly with the victims," university spokeswoman Andrée-Anne Stewart told reporters Monday morning, adding that psychological support was made available to them.

An emotional Stewart, speaking "as a former student and as a young woman,"  encouraged others who wanted to talk about the incidents to seek support from the university's resources.

"Really, this affects us."

Quebec City police are asking witnesses who have more information to reach to them at 418-641-2447.

With files from Julia Page