Vancouver – Vancouver Police have concluded an investigation into an alleged kidnapping and sexual assault that stoked community fear after misinformation went viral on social media and was later reported in the news.
“After more than three weeks of reviewing security video, interviewing witnesses, and collecting medical information, we have confirmed that this was a case of misadventure – not a violent crime,” says Sergeant Steve Addison. “There was never a risk of harm to the public as a result of this incident, and the fear was spread wide by people who unknowingly shared information that was not accurate.”
Vancouver Police initiated an investigation on November 4, after an Instagram post alleged that a woman had been abducted by a man dressed all in black and sexually assaulted while walking away from a pub near Victoria Drive and Powell Street. The post, which went viral and prompted mainstream news coverage, suggested the woman was severely beaten, had her teeth knocked out, and was “dumped” in a park. It also suggested the woman had been drugged while inside the bar and targeted by a predator who was still at large.
The Vancouver Police investigation has now confirmed that details from the social media post were not true, and that the woman involved was not responsible for the misinformation.
“The nature of the allegations from the social media post were extremely concerning, and VPD initiated an investigation to address what appeared to be a significant public safety concern,” adds Sergeant Addison. “After speaking with the woman involved, retracing her steps, and conducting an extensive video review, we have now confirmed that she was not the victim of a violent crime.”
Police now know the injured woman was out with friends in the early hours of November 4, when she left the pub around closing time. The woman flagged down a passerby on an electric scooter and hitched a ride on the front, but quickly fell off and struck her face on the pavement.
The injured woman left the area, contacted a friend for help, and was taken to hospital for medical treatment. Police believe injuries sustained during her fall from the scooter may have contributed to some memory loss or confusion.
The injured woman was visiting Canada from Mexico at the time of incident, and has since returned home.
“Our investigators met with the injured woman before she left the country and found her to be forthcoming with what she recalled about the night she was injured,” says Sergeant Addison. “She was not responsible for the misinformation that was spread online and in the media, and it appears the misinformation was shared by people who did not take the time to find out what had really happened.”
The Vancouver Police Department hopes this incident serves as a reminder for people to turn to VPD for the most timely, accurate, and trusted source of information about public safety in their community.
“We believe victims, we take all allegations of sexual assault seriously, and we encourage anyone who believes they have been the victim of a crime to come forward,” adds Sergeant Addison. “While this investigation has concluded that a sexual assault did not occur, we want everyone to know that every allegation brought forward will be thoroughly investigated and that victims of crime will be fully supported through the investigative process.”