Women’s group Hollaback! still waiting for Transpo safety plan

In the wake of another serious sex assault initiated on transit property, the leader of an anti-street harassment group wants to know why details of OC Transpo’s enhanced safety plan haven’t been released.

“The situation is dire,” said Hollaback! Ottawa director Julie Lalonde.

”What more do we need to happen to show this is a problem?”

The latest incident involves a young woman propositioned by four men as she waited at the Blair transitway station around 5 a.m. Sunday.

They offered her cash for sex, said cops.

She declined.

Against her will the woman was led to a secluded area in the 1600 block of James Naismith Dr. then robbed and sexually assaulted, said cops.

A security guard heard her screaming and alerted police, who are looking for four suspects.

The city was quick to distance itself from the attack, saying it “did not take place on transit property — it was reported that it took place near the Blair transit station,” Transpo’s manager of transit safety and enforcement services James Babe said in an e-mail statement sent via media relations.

Regardless, “one incident is too many,” Babe continued.

“OC Transpo takes all reported incidents seriously. We encourage our customers to report any suspicious or criminal behaviour on OC Transpo buses, trains, and throughout the transit system.”

Thirteen sex assaults have been reported on transit properties since Jan. 1, Babe confirmed.

In 2012 Transpo was notified of 14 assaults.

Transpo management met with women’s groups earlier this year to hear concerns about riders being assaulted while bystanders did nothing to help.

GM John Manconi recently told the Sun he would be revealing security enhancements shortly.

Details of a revised safety charter are expected to be outlined at the Aug. 21 transit commission meeting.

Lalonde points out women’s groups haven’t asked Transpo for more special constables on buses or additional cameras.

Rather, the focus is on bystanders.

“It’s everyone’s responsibility to make it safer,” said Lalonde.

Telling females to partner up or alter their behaviour is “offensive,” and doesn’t deter violence, said Lalonde.

“Grown women should be able to navigate the city the same as grown men.”

The suspects are black, 18 to 20 years old, 6-feet tall with short black hair, speaking English and another language the woman couldn’t identify.

Anyone with information can contact investigators at 613-236-1222 ext. 5944 or Crime Stoppers at 613-233-8477.




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