Brockville community grapples with ‘unsubstantiated’ rumours of sexual assaults in downtown core

Brockville Police – Photo via Brockville Police Facebook

Last week, Brockville Police issued a press release attempting to assuage public unrest amid ongoing rumours about a lingering sexual assault problem in the city’s downtown core. 

These rumours have been primarily circulating online for months and the Brockville community is eager for answers; however, police say these rumours are unsubstantiated.

Brockvilleist reached out to Brockville Police’s Staff Sergeant Darryl Boyd in an attempt to clarify the situation.

Boyd says that to the police’s knowledge, the rumours began with one woman coming forward to law enforcement with some concerns.

“They did come forward to us and had a discussion with the officers, but for multiple different reasons we didn’t have enough evidence to continue the investigation,” Boyd says. 

Boyd explains that the individual who came forward had posted about her experience on Facebook back in the summer “and it just gathered steam with other people on social media.”

“It created an environment where people became very scared about downtown and these things happening,” he continues. 

Like a game of broken telephone, “things got exaggerated, and all of a sudden it turned into talk of multiple assaults taking place in town.” 

Boyd says sexual assault is something Brockville Police take very seriously, but the reality is only one of these alleged incidents has been reported to police. 

Regardless of the ultimate validity of these rumours, Brockville resident Simon Erlich says he is “saddened to live in a place where my fellow humans need to consider their personal safety from others at any time.” 

Referring to the fact that much of the chatter centred on the Brock Trail potentially being unsafe, Erlich notes that “people seek the outdoors and nature as a refuge to unwind from the stress of day-to-day life. To exist in these spaces while holding vigilant concern for safety hinders one’s ability to gain much-needed rest and recovery of the nervous system.”

Elrich sees at the heart of this story a continued history of gendered violence, particularly against women and 2SLGBTQIA+ identifying individuals. 

“Regardless of whether the stories of sexual violence are true – and I don’t mean to suggest that they are or are not – this is an issue deeply rooted in society and is particularly reinforced by both patriarchal and unjust social systems.” 

In order to resolve these “deeply rooted issues, we would benefit from asking ourselves what we can collectively do to create positive systemic change,” says Elrich. 

“Accordingly, I see these stories as an invitation to discuss, as a community, the emotional, psychological, and social impacts of gendered violence.”

Police encourage anyone with further information to contact the Brockville Police Service at 613-342-0127 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477). 

With files from Hollie Pratt-Campbell

Brockvilleist will continue to follow this story and update the public if any further developments come to light. 

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