'Hateful' and sexual mass emails targeting Moncton student originated outside country
RCMP seek person of interest after 3 emails containing sexual images sent to about 1,000 students, professors
A series of "hateful" and sexually explicit emails targeting a female University of Moncton student that were sent to a large portion of the student body over the weekend originated from a server outside the country, university officials said early Monday evening.
The Codiac Regional RCMP are looking for a person of interest in connection with the case, said Cpl. Matthew Roy.
"We have a possible suspect in mind, but we haven't been able to make any arrests or even to speak to that person yet," he said. "There could be others, but as it stands right now, there's just the one.
I was utterly disgusted that someone would want to hurt someone so bad and ruin their life.-Roxann Guerrette, student president
"We don't know if he's local, if he's around or if he's somewhere else."
The university is also investigating and has determined the source of the three emails falsified the return addresses.
"We have determined that this consists of someone being impersonated and does not compromise the security of the Université de Moncton's IT network," president and vice-chancellor Raymond Théberge said in a statement.
"This means that the personal information of Université de Moncton students and staff is safe," he said.
The university contends there is "little risk" to members of the university community since the emails originated outside the country, likely in Europe, but it is working with police "to ensure safety on the campuses and to stop this campaign of degrading and unwanted emails," the statement said.
Officials have also set up telephone lines to offer support services to people on all three campuses, either over the phone, or in person.
More than 1,000 students and professors received the emails, according to the student association.
"We are outraged by that," Marc Angers, director of communications for the university, said Monday. "We condemn such a gesture."
Angers said the university is looking into the origin of the messages and how the sender could have gotten access to the student mailing list.
A second message was sent later Saturday, saying in French why the first email was sent.
A third email was sent Sunday, with essentially the same message as the second one, in English.
In it, the sender wrote: "I'm not afraid of no one, and I'm taking all my responsibilities. I didn't do anything wrong. I just showed you the reality of this girl who is acting as an innocent person but with devil's acts.
"I'm living in Morocco and just catch me if you can."
Angers confirmed all three emails were sent by the same person, but the person has not been identified.
Angers could not say the exact number of students who received the emails but confirmed it was a "mass emailing."
Sexual harassment campaign planned
Roxann Guerrette, president of the student union FEECUM, said the emails targeted a woman studying at the university.
"I was utterly disgusted that someone would want to hurt someone so bad and ruin their life," Guerrette said. "The email contained information that was personal."
The sender was clearly trying to shame the victim, Guerrette said, and student leaders are organizing a campaign to talk about sexual harassment in the coming weeks.
She said the mood on campus was tense Monday, with many students worried for their own safety.
The third email ended with a threat.
"This is just a warning for the "university" of Moncton because i'm coming back to play with you guys, see you around!" it said.
"It's kind of scary," said Felicia Stockless, a student at the university.
"Everyone got the first email. And then my friend — my roommate, she got a second email and it was very threatening towards the RCMP and security on campus. It makes you think, well who's next?"
Police received complaints
The RCMP said they received complaints from students about the emails and opened an investigation Monday morning.
Staff Sgt. Eric Larose said the sender could be charged for distributing intimate images of a person, without the person having given their consent, a charge added to the Criminal Code in 2015.
As for the possibility the person who sent the emails is out of the country, Larose said it is too early to tell what actions could be taken in that case.