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London, Ont.  Police address sexual assault allegations at Western University

Exeter, Ont. –

Speaking at a press conference on Tuesday about the rumors spreading on social media, the London, Ont. Police chief, along with the president of Western University, vowed to investigate all the complaints of sexual violence.

The engagement comes amid unconfirmed but widely shared social media rumors that up to 30 female students have been drugged and sexually assaulted on campus.

The London Police Department says it is aware of the allegations, but has yet to receive any formal complaints.

“The London Police Service and its community partners will support those who come forward,” said Chief Steve Williams. “There is no place for gender-based violence in our community.”

A letter was sent to residents of Medway-Sydenham Hall on Saturday by student housing officials, saying the school was following the allegations.

Williams says police received three separate complaints involving four women believed to have taken place at other campuses, ahead of the Medway-Sydenham Hall allegations.

According to Williams, a man was arrested in connection with the complaints, but is no longer in custody and no charges have been laid.

Also speaking on Tuesday, Western University President Alan Shepard said, “These events do not reflect Western values ​​and are not the Western experience we want for our students.

Lyna Matti is a freshman at Western and tells CTV News London that she is shocked every time she opens her phone.

“I see it everywhere on my phone, on social media and every time I open my phone it feels like there’s something like I’ve heard someone is in care. intensive and there was another person in the hospital, ”she says. “It’s almost difficult to determine what’s real and what’s rumored and because it is, it’s been a little crazy the last few days, especially just with (Orientation) Week in general, as we all expected. to make it just fun and just crazy and party, but now watch what happens.

When it comes to helping potential victims, Jennifer Dunn of the London Abused Women’s Center says they are there to support women and girls.

“We are here in the community to provide support to women and girls. And so we are very happy when women and girls ask for this support, ”she adds.

annalize Trudel is the director of education and training research at Anova, an organization based in London, Ont. that supports victims of gender-based violence.

She says they recently had students as well as parents contacted the 24-hour crisis line in the city.

“We’re always here 24/7 to offer crisis support, but we also offer clinical counseling support, so people can sign up to do this work with our advisors, either through Zoom. or in person, ”Trudel said.

“But we’ve also been very present in terms of participating in the larger conversation that is unfolding around this issue both on social media and in person. A lot of people are dealing with that and want to make sense of what’s going on and we kind of dive into that space as well. “

The minister responsible for Ontario colleges and universities also released a statement following allegations of assault and violence at Western.

“The Ontario government strongly condemns all forms of violence and believes that all students deserve to feel safe on and off campus. As Minister of Colleges and Universities and a mother of post-secondary students, I am extremely concerned about the incidents of sexual violence reported by students at Western University, ”said Minister Jill Dunlop.

“I want to thank the survivors who have come forward and encourage anyone else with information to contact local law enforcement. Together, we have a responsibility to listen to and support survivors of sexual violence.”

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