An Abbotsford woman reported in February that she had been brutally sexually assaulted by two Indo-Canadian men, resulting in Abbotsford Police launching a major investigation to track them down.
The 19-year-old has now admitted that she made it all up.
Const. Ian MacDonald said police first became suspicious about two weeks ago, when portions of the teen’s story began changing.
Up until then, she had been a credible witness who appeared traumatized and offered specific details about the crime.
“There was no reason for us to doubt the victim,” MacDonald said.
The woman told investigators that she had been walking in the area of Pauline and Homeview streets on the evening of Feb. 2, when two South Asian men in a white pickup truck pulled up beside her.
She said the passenger grabbed her and pushed her into the back seat. The driver then parked the vehicle a short distance away, and both men sexually assaulted her before pushing her out of the truck in a parking lot in the 34000 block of Gladys Avenue, the woman said.
She went to Abbotsford Police with her story the following day.
Police quickly released information about the attack, including detailed descriptions of the supposed assailants. Composite sketches of the attackers followed a few days later.
MacDonald said numerous police resources were dedicated to finding the culprits.
Officers went door-to-door for information, extra patrols were added in the downtown core, and investigators combed police records searching for potential links to similar incidents in other communities.
MacDonald said tips from the public came in “by the bucketload,” including one that a South Asian man wearing a military-style dog tag had been seen frequenting the area of the assault.
Several “people of interest” were interviewed as the potential perpetrators.
“This was a major, major investigation,” he said, adding that the report on the incident grew to 600 pages in the five months since the woman first came to police.
MacDonald said when police began questioning the woman’s story in the last two weeks, she admitted she had fabricated it. He said charges were considered, but Crown counsel has determined that it will be difficult to prove in court the woman’s intent.
“I can’t go into a lot of detail but there is some suggestion that there could be factors about the individual that would make proving the intent component difficult,” MacDonald said.
He said there is an “element of attention-seeking” to the incident, and an explanation from the teen that once she told the story, it got out of control and she didn’t know how to reverse it.
MacDonald said he hopes this incident does not have an impact on future cases.
“The Abbotsford Police Department continues to encourage people to call their police department, and we commend the courage it takes for legitimate victims to come forward.”
SIMILAR CASE IN 2009
This isn’t the first time Abbotsford Police have handled a sex assault file that has resulted in the “victim” admitting she lied.
In July 2009, a 23-year-old woman reported that she had been sexually assaulted by a man who forced his way into her apartment from the balcony. Police issued a press release about the “balcony rapist” and described the assailant as a heavy-set Caucasian man.
The woman admitted she had lied about two weeks later, when police questioned details of her account.
Tammi Zall was charged with public mischief. She pleaded guilty the following year and received a four-month conditional sentence (house arrest).