The all-girls high school in York Mills is planning a safety awareness campaign
The Loretto Abbey Secondary Catholic School community is planning a safety awareness campaign after a 15-year-old student was attacked on her way home from school in early November.
The female student was jumped while walking to the York Mills subway station on a path that connects the school to the York Mills Road and Yonge Street intersection.
Police say at about 12:30 p.m., the suspect approached the victim, pushed her to the ground and attempted to sexually assault her.
The teen was able to fight off the male suspect and flee back to school where she informed the principal.
The principal notified the police.
“When the incident was recorded, we had officers on patrol in that area, on foot, on bikes and in the cruisers,” Constable Tony Vella said.
Police describe the suspect as male with a dark brown complexion, 25 to 30 years old, about 5-foot-10 with a medium build, balding with short black hair, unshaven and wearing a black jogging suit.
“We are speaking to residents and trying to find out what happened or if anyone saw anything,” Vella said in late November. “We have no new leads or any other information to provide the public so we need their help.”
Police say the quiet neighbourhood doesn’t see a lot of crime.
The Catholic school board told the Town Crier they are taking precautions and educating students about safety.
“The school has always emphasized with the students the importance of travelling to and from school in groups and to avoid using the path as a short cut to the subway – particularly if they are alone,” said Emmy Szekeres Milne, Catholic school board representative.
“There are signs posted along that path to remind them.
“Since the incident, the girls have been reminded even more frequently about personal safety.”
The pathway is isolated and narrow — there is only one sign that faces the entrance walking toward the school, which is completely covered in red graffiti.
In light of the issue, the Catholic school board has ensured that student safety is a major priority for them to tackle across the city.
“The school administration has met with the safe schools team, the guidance counsellor and the youth counsellor and have discussed safety concerns with the parent council,” Milne said.
In December, the school board planned a safety assembly for all students to avoid incidents such as robberies, gang-related events and sexual assault.
“We are in collaboration with Toronto Police and BOOST (a child abuse prevention intervention program) to focus on a variety of safety issues, including basic self defence strategies, Internet safety and street safety.”
Learning self defence helps students protect themselves from these types of acts, the Catholic school board says. They want to ensure all students are prepared for the worst.
Police are asking the community if they have witnessed the assault on the 15-year-old student or any similar encounters to notify the police with any details at 416-808-7474 or Crime Stoppers at 416-222-TIPS (8477).
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