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London Police, Western University investigating multiple reports of sexual violence on campus

Last Updated Sep 13, 2021 at 5:51 pm EDT

Students walk across campus at Western University in London, Ont., Saturday, Sept. 19, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Geoff Robins

Officials with Western University say they have increased security on campus and in student residences following reports of sexual violence.

The university, located in London, Ont., has not provided details of the alleged incidents but said it is “investigating reports from this weekend.”

A statement from Chris Alleyne, associate vice-president of housing and ancillary services, notes that the school will not tolerate sexual violence.

“We are very troubled by the incidents reported over social media this past weekend. We are working hard to clarify and confirm these reports. So far, we have received very little information related to these reports, and we’re asking anyone with more details to come forward to Western or London Police Services,” Alleyne said in a statement on Monday.

“Western has received four formal complaints of sexual violence from students over the past week. We have taken swift and strong action in these cases, including facilitating arrest and removing students from residence while investigations continue.”

Alleyne says that while an investigation is underway, those facing complaints are “sanctioned, which can include removal from campus.”

He says the school has not received any formal complaints from alleged victims.

“These cases do not appear to be connected to each other, or to what we’re seeing on social media,” Alleyne added.

“Western’s gender-based and sexual violence policy provides options to survivors, including making a disclosure to request support or filing a formal complaint. Students can access support and resources without filing a formal complaint. Western’s safe campus community policy also encourages community members to report incidents by making a disclosure.”

“I can’t emphasize enough that sexual violence will never be tolerated at Western. We will continue to take action on every disclosure and complaint,” he said.

In an updated statement from London Police, officers confirm they have opened an investigation into the matter, saying they’re aware of “information circulating on social media pertaining to a number of sexual assaults” alleged to have occurred at Medway-Sydenham Hall over this past weekend.

London Police says it has not received any reports from this weekend involving incidents at Medway-Sydenham Hall.

“Given the seriousness of the allegations raised in relation to incidents occurring at Medway-Sydenham Hall, the London Police Service has opened an investigation, and we will work collaboratively with Western University to identify and support any victims and ensure a thorough investigation is conducted,” a spokesperson for London Police said in a release.

“Two reports were received in the week prior pertaining to allegations of sexual assault occurring at other locations on campus. These incidents remain under investigation, and part of that investigation will include examining possible linkages to any unreported incidents.”

The police force says if Western University receives any report of sexual assault or violence, the matter is turned over to investigators immediately.

Last week was Orientation Week at the university.

“We are working to support our students and ensure they feel safe,” Alleyne said.

“We have increased security in residence and have on-site confidential counselling and specialized gender-based violence and survivor support professionals available for our students.”