Police say a reported weekend sexual assault on the Long Pond walking trail near the Fluvarium in St. John’s didn’t happen.
“We just want you to know no assault occurred on this path at any time,” said Royal Newfoundland Constabulary spokesman Const. Steven Curnew, speaking to reporters as joggers and walkers passed by.
“We wanted to advise the public that there is no immediate threat that there is a suspect out there.”
The woman who made the false report will not be charged, Curnew said, though he would not elaborate why.
“RNC have exercised their discretion in this case and due to certain circumstances have deemed that charges are not appropriate in this time,” he said.
The RNC issued a news release about the Saturday evening incident, warning the public to be on the lookout, and even provided a description of a man in his 30s.
“Calls of this nature we take very seriously, and once we get it we want to send out a warning to the public right away, as soon as we can,” Curnew said.
The woman called police that night from the Fluvarium parking lot and was taken to the Health Sciences Centre for a medical evaluation.
Several officers were involved in the investigation.
“We certainly don’t discourage anyone,” Curnew said. “We know through crime stats a lot of sexual assaults go unreported. We would rather have an investigation lead to a false complaint than have a victim of a sexual assault. Every investigation of course we take seriously.”
Nicole Kieley, executive director of the NL Sexual Assault Crisis and Prevention Centre wouldn’t comment on the specific case, but she cautioned that only a tiny number — five per cent — of reports are recanted as false.
But unfortunately, she said, such high-profile cases get attention through media reports.
Kieley noted the prevalence of sexual assault and that only 10 per cent of the assaults actually get reported.
“Usually the women we work with, or individuals we work with, there are a lot of barriers why it is hard to come forward,” she said, adding that includes the huge fear of being victimized or not being believed, as well as the gruelling process of going through the investigation and court process.