Monday, July 30, 2012

Abbotsford sexual attack report proves to be bogus

Abbotsford Police have determined the reported sexual assault of a young woman by two unknown men in February was false.

The alleged 19-year-old victim informed police on Feb. 3 that she had been dragged into a vehicle and taken to a parking lot close to the downtown core and sexually assaulted by two South Asian men the night before.

Given the seriousness of the reported crime, APD deployed launched a wide-scale investigation which drew on much of its resources, said Const. Ian MacDonald.

Numerous officers were tasked with investigative duties, the forensic unit was deployed to gather evidence and produce composite sketches of the described suspects.

The APD issued two separate news releases to protect to public safety and ask for witnesses and information.

Following the incident patrol officers conducted a door knocking campaign downtown and talked to every business in the area.

The department's crime analysts contacted other police jurisdictions to look for patterns or other similar assaults over a period of years.

Most importantly, major crime detectives worked every lead they received in the more than five-month investigation, said MacDonald.

"After all of those efforts by the APD and the community, it has now been determined that the incident was fabricated," he said, adding thousands and thousands of dollars was spent on the case.

It took a fairly significant amount of time to determine the report was bogus as the alleged victim had provided lots of information about things that were partially true, said MacDonald.

"She provide so much detail of actual people and things downtown," he said.

"She wasn't fabricating every element of the story but interspersing nuggets of truth into the report."

The women even went so far as to describe a real truck as the vehicle that had been involved in her abduction.

Descriptions she provided were then corroborated by other people in the area as a result, said MacDonald.

A case file 650 pages long was created the bulk of that comprised of tips from the public.

The young women eventually confessed to detectives after a number of meetings to work out seeming inconsistencies in the information she provided, he said.

MacDonald said its unlikely charges will be laid against the woman.

It would be difficult to prove intent given her mental capacity and her understanding that such a fabrication would have the results it did, he said.

It's not entirely clear why the woman would make the false report.

"There's some component of attention seeking," said MacDonald.

"And once it got started, it's difficult to find the right time and place to confess truth."

The APD is sharing the information not to embarrass the woman but inform the community impacted by the false report, said MacDonald.

"This was a huge investigation and we have a responsibility to let citizens know the results and hopefully alleviate the fear associated with the attack."

The department threw the appropriate amount of resources at the case given the seriousness of the alleged crime, said MacDonald.

"A duo stranger attack deserves a lot of attention from any law enforcement agency in any city," he said.

"But beyond the monetary cost, what price tag do you put on the fear it created among women who had to take the bus in the downtown core."

The APD stresses it still wants people to call the department around crime and commends the courage it takes for legitimate victims to come forward, said MacDonald.

"We want to remind the others that diverting police resources to bogus events can impact our ability to help those who truly need it."