Families living in a quiet Wilson Heights neighbourhood are keeping a more vigilant eye out for suspicious activity in light of a disturbing child sex assault that occurred on Boxing Day.
The residential community near Bathurst Street and Wilson Avenue was still reeling days after a four-year-old girl was abducted overnight from a Charleswood Drive home and sexually assaulted. Though the young girl was found nearby minutes later, the suspect escaped, and was still at-large in early January.
Charleswood resident Karen Dales said neighbours were shocked to find out what had transpired in what she says is a generally safe area.
“You could leave your doors unlocked, even open, and nothing would ever happen — it’s one of those neighbourhoods,” said Dales, who’s lived on the street for 18 years.
That may change now.
“Because there’s so many small children here … a lot of people are saying, ‘you know what, we’re not going to let our kids be wandering around anymore, I’ll make sure that I pick up my kid and drop my kid off.’ ”
The mother of a young boy herself, Dales said she sent an email to the parent council of the nearby Faywood Public School suggesting they send out a mass notification to parents alerting them to the incident and urging children to take extra care. The school closed for a two-week winter break three days before the incident occurred.
“Personally, I’m not overly concerned but I’m just keeping an eye out for people who might be a problem,” Dales said.
Meanwhile, police were offering few details about the incident days later.
Officers have confirmed the Dec. 26 incident took place sometime between 3 a.m. and 3:30 a.m. when a man allegedly entered the home, and removed the girl before sexually assaulting her near the home.
The girl’s parents found her minutes later, but police won’t say where exactly she was located, or how the parents were alerted to her abduction. A man was seen fleeing the scene, police say.
The girl and her family are reportedly from the United States, and were visiting family at the home for Chanukah.
Dales said the family living in the house have been there for many years and are very friendly.
Despite setting up a command post almost immediately after the incident, and conducting a multi-day canvass of the neighbourhood, police had yet to locate the man as of Jan. 4.
He is described as white, 19–20, between 5-foot-6 and 5-foot-10 with a medium build. He was last seen wearing a blue jacket or sweatshirt with or without a hood and bluish toque with a stripe, or a hat. He was wearing dark sweatpants or jeans.
Anyone with information relevant to this case should contact the Toronto Police Service’s Sex Crimes Unit at 416-808-7474.
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