Police have arrested a 40-year-old woman in connection with three sexual assaults in Toronto, including one in which a female patient was sexually assaulted.
The Toronto Police Service (TPS) said on Monday the arrest involved three sexual assaults reported in the last week, and are looking to determine if there are any additional victims.
According to the police, officers arrested the woman at her home after being contacted by her doctor. The Toronto Star reported she had contacted her doctor complaining about injuries that she believed may have been caused by a sexual assault.
The newspaper reported that the doctor had been in contact with the alleged victim and “with police when he first learned of the complaints against his medical assistant”.
Police said the woman is in custody in Toronto awaiting a bail hearing on Monday afternoon. Toronto’s deputy police chief, Peter Tabuns, said in a news conference that investigators are concerned there may be more victims.
“Many sexual assaults don’t get reported,” Tabuns said. “Victims of sexual assault report the reality that reporting gives up some control.”
The Toronto Star reported that police were alerted to the alleged sexual assault on December 13, but didn’t tell the patient about the investigation until a week later.
Kayla Kaniff, a public information officer for the Toronto police, said they received multiple reports of other alleged sexual assaults but wouldn’t be able to confirm whether they were related or how they were reported.
“For medical examiner information purposes we typically turn to them for medical information,” Kaniff said.
However, she said a “trilogy of sexual assaults over a seven-day period” was not covered by the victims’ confidentiality.
That is in sharp contrast to the response to an Oct. 9 sexual assault that had been reported in 2016. Police waited 23 days to announce that DNA evidence from a sexual assault in the city’s northwest ward led to the arrest of one man, Paul Mancini, who remains in custody.
“We wanted people to know that we have an investigation in progress, that one person is in custody, but we didn’t want to put out anything at the time about that individual,” Tabuns said at the time.
The most serious of the three attacks was reported to police on Saturday. The victim, a 35-year-old woman, arrived at her doctor’s office on Danforth Avenue at about 9am to visit an obstetrician-gynecologist.
Kaniff told the CBC the woman was in the examination room and “treated by a nurse, subject to the courtesy of a dressing change”.
However, the nurse noticed a “abnormality on her outer thigh,” causing her to “disrobe”.
When she was “unable to walk anywhere without difficulty,” she “was escorted out of the office to a waiting room”, said Kaniff.
The second reported sexual assault, a December 12 assault, happened at a different Toronto doctor’s office.
A 46-year-old woman reported she was sexually assaulted by a man at a medical doctor’s office in the city’s Parkdale neighborhood, next to High Park.
At 9am, the woman asked for a coffee outside the doctor’s office and was confronted by a man. Police said they were concerned that more victims could come forward.
Similar reports to police are happening within the medical community in Toronto, Kaniff said. “We have worked with other organizations [and] we want to work with them as well, so we’re asking for medical reporting mechanisms,” she said.
Tabuns said there were “good and bad feelings” about the delay in reporting sexual assaults, but said “a lot of good things have come out of this incident,” including the fact police arrested a suspect quickly.