Byward Market sex assault charges

Police should have notified the public about a sexual predator targeting women in the Byward Market, says the head of the Ottawa Rape Crisis Centre.

“Whether it was a single assault or a serial assault,” a press release should’ve come out sooner, said executive director Sandy Onyalo.

“Men do pick on women who they perceive as vulnerable.”

An Ottawa man once called a “dangerous and deceitful drug dealer” faces a slew of charges after women were offered rides and then robbed and sexually assaulted.

Ottawa police say Magabi Suleiman, 29, was prowling downtown Ottawa in the early morning hours between March 19 and May 1.

The victims — some of whom were sexually assaulted and had their cellphones stolen — were between 19 and 22 years old.

Suleiman was arrested Monday and appeared in court Tuesday on several charges including two counts of sexual assault, three counts of forcible confinement and four counts of theft under $5,000.

The executive director of the Ottawa Coalition To End Violence Against Women said young women should be vigilant but the onus for their safety isn’t on them alone.

“I think we should start focusing on young men,” said Erin Williams.

“You can take all the precautions and still be a victim.”

Onyalo agrees.

“You can’t be vigilant 24/7,” she said.

May is sexual assault awareness month.

A conference is planned for May 19 at City Hall where a community-based research project will examine the links between sexual violence, youth and drinking.

Eight women are sexually assaulted every day in Ottawa, Williams said, adding only one will turn to police.

Suleiman also faces three counts of breach of recognizance, one count of theft of credit card, one count of criminal harassment and another count of intimidation.

Suleiman has been in the news before.

Last June, he provided key evidence against Const. Jacky Lord, who was accused of performing an illegal arrest and strip search on him in July 2008 after Suleiman challenged Lord and two other officers to a fight.

Lord was eventually cleared of all charges.

Ottawa police are reminding people to be vigilant when they’re out socializing with friends.

Anyone with information should contact the Ottawa police sexual assault/child abuse section at 613-236-1222 ext. 5944 or Crime Stoppers at 613-233-8477.

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