Personal Safety

Women who regularly walk river trail near Bonnycastle Park shocked by sexual assault

Women who regularly walk river trail near Bonnycastle Park shocked by sexual assault

Women who regularly walk river trail near Bonnycastle Park shocked by sexual assault Share on Facebook Police looking for 2 suspects who attacked woman, 18, on Tuesday Laura Glowacki – CBC News
2 Hours Ago Winnipeg police say a woman was seriously sexually assaulted on the river path south of the steps leading up to Main Street, east of Bonnycastle Park, early in the evening on Aug. 21, 2018. (Jeff Stapleton/CBC)
The sexual assault of a woman, 18, on the river path near Bonnycastle Park on Tuesday afternoon has shocked women who use the trail regularly.
The victim told police she had been walking along the river path, south of the steps leading up to Main Street and near the bridge east of Bonnycastle Park, when two men pushed her, grabbed her backpack and seriously sexually assaulted her.
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“It’s just terrifying,” said Kendall McLean, 30, works near Bonnycastle Park and frequently walks her dog in the area. “Anytime you hear something happening like this, your first thoughts go to the individual to whom this happened.” “I’ve never felt unsafe here. It is surprising. – Debbie Down
Debbie Down and Nancy Kolotylo regularly use the river trail along the Assiniboine River to walk together to the Forks. Both were alarmed by the attack.
“I’ve never felt unsafe here,” Down said. “It is surprising.”
“I would never have thought, as Debbie said, it would be unsafe here,” said Kolotylo.
The woman told police she was walking along the river path, south of the steps leading up to Main Street and near the bridge east of Bonnycastle Park, at about 5:45 p.m. when two men pushed her, grabbed her backpack and seriously sexually assaulted her.
One of the men appeared to be in his 30s and about five feet ten inches tall, with short brown hair and a beard. The second man looked like he was in his 20s with dirty blond hair, police said. No sketch of attackers Based on the description provided to CBC by Winnipeg police, the assault on Tuesday happened somewhere in this area of the river walk. (Google Maps)
Police do not yet have a sketch the men involved but there may be one soon.
“If the victim is willing and able to sit down with a sketch artist, a photo may be released at a later time,” Const. Tammy Skrabek, a spokesperson for Winnipeg police, wrote in an email Wednesday.
She encourages anyone walking under bridges or in secluded areas to be aware of their surroundings.
“Walking with a second person is always recommended, as well as carrying a noise-making device or personal alarm and not wearing … noise-cancelling earphones.” Attack ‘unconscionable,’ says trails advocate
Anders Swanson, executive director of the Winnipeg Trails Association, a group that promotes use of trails including the river paths in Winnipeg, said he believes it’s important not to blame the victim nor the trail itself for the attack.
Violence against women happens in all environments, he said.
“It’s not their fault, that’s really critical,” Swanson said. “What happened is something that’s unconscionable and we all have to speak up against it, period.”
In recent years river trails have grown in popularity in Winnipeg, he said. As more people use the trail system, perceptions of safety will improve, he said.
“Interest is growing for sure but we have a long way to go.”
The Winnipeg Police Service sex crimes unit is investigating the Tuesday’s attack. Anyone with information that might help investigators is asked to call 204-986-6245 or Crime Stoppers at 204-786-TIPS (8477).
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