A report of a rare random sexual assault in a North Delta park that had residents on edge for weeks has been determined to be false, police now say.
Delta officers say new evidence has come to light that caused investigators to doubt the story of a woman who reported that she was attacked from behind while walking in Sunbury Park in the early morning hours of April 12.
In a follow-up meeting, she confirmed the attack did not take place, and recanted her statement, said a police news release.
“We understand the community was very troubled by news of the alleged stranger sex assault in the park,” says Cris Leykauf, spokesperson for Delta Police.
The public outcry over the alleged assault at the time, amid three others that month in the Lower Mainland, caused the police force to hold a public meeting to discuss how to improve safety on May 9, which included police speakers, the mayor and parks representatives.
Even a sketch of the false assailant was produced, and he was described as a 5-10 Caucasian male, about 35 years old, with short brown hair, a full beard, a slender face and a medium build.
“We do not want this news to discourage any other potential victims of sex assault from coming forward. Our investigators will always treat these reports very seriously, and will work with the community to do our best to ensure the public’s safety," says Leykauf.
Making false reports to police is a crime, added the spokesperson, but in this case, "due to a variety of factors, investigators have determined it is not in the public interest to pursue charges in this matter.”
Reports of strangers comitting sexual assaults are rare and are "prioritized to the highest level of investigation," says the Delta Police.