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Victoria police crack 20-year-old child sex assault case

Victoria police Det. Todd Wellman speaks to reporters Wednesday at the Victoria Women
Victoria police Det. Todd Wellman speaks to reporters Wednesday at the Victoria Women's Sexual Assault Centre, after Victoria police cracked a 20-year-old sexual assault case. Wellman, flanked by Joanne MacLaren, a VIHA forensic nurse examiner, left, and Tracey Coulter, a counsellor with the centre, said the break in the case led to the arrest of a 66-year-old man in Quebec.
— image credit: Erin McCracken/News staff

Police have made an arrest in connection with the sexual assault of a young girl in Victoria 20 years ago.

A 66-year-old man was picked up by police in Quebec on Tuesday (May 8), after a recent break in the case.

"The victim has had contact with the (Victoria) Women's Sexual Assault Centre and I can say she was thrilled to hear about the arrest," said Det.-Sgt. Todd Wellman, head of the Victoria Police Department's Special Victims Unit.

The assault is alleged to have happened in a private residence in Victoria in 1992. Police are releasing few details about the file to protect the victim's identity, but confirmed the accused and the victim knew one another.

"(In) most sex assaults, the offender is known to the victim and this is one of those cases," Wellman said, during a press conference at the Victoria Women's Sexual Assault Centre on Wednesday.

The victim did not report the assault to police until 1998.

"Sometimes it's about the willingness of the person involved to provide full details," Wellman said, speaking in general. "Sometimes its about tracking down the right witness and getting them in for an interview and then being able to corroborate (facts)."

Only six per cent of sexual assault victims file a police report, according to the sexual assault centre.

The accused in this case is not known to Victoria police and was not a long-term resident of Victoria at the the time of the alleged crime.

The press conference was called, in part, to raise awareness about services that are available to sexual assault survivors, no matter when an assault takes place. May is Sexual Assault Awareness Month.

The arrest sends different messages to criminals and to survivors.

"In this break of this 20-year-old file we really want to send that strong message to the criminals out there that we won't stop looking for you," Wellman said.

"The biggest point that we want to make about this is that regardless of the historical nature of sexual assaults, we will keep on digging until we're able to, ideally, hold someone accountable for these offences."

Wellman also had a message for survivors of sexual assaults: "Regardless of the time lag, you can report it, we'll take you seriously, we will believe you and we'll do our best to investigate and hold anyone accountable."

The accused, whose name is being withheld by police, was released following his arrest, but was ordered to abide by a number of conditions. He has been formally charged with one count each of sexual assault and gross indecency.

He is scheduled to appear at the Victoria Law Courts on June 25.

emccracken@vicnews.com

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