By: Sarah Newton
A sexual assault near Baseline and Navaho on Oct. 13 has neighbourhood residents concerned about safety as police conduct an ongoing investigation.
A 20-year-old woman was walking along a path near 1800 Baseline Rd. at around 3 a.m., when she was pushed to the ground from behind and assaulted. The suspect fled when local tenants intervened. Algonquin security was not involved.
Baseline resident and first-year dental assisting student Megan Van’tslot said she heard “screaming, terrors, and calls for help” outside her ground-floor window in the early hours of the morning.
“We definitely don’t walk alone by ourselves,” Van’tslot said. “I live with three girls, so we don’t travel alone.”
The assault has people living in the area concerned, raising questions about building safety and what could possibly be poor lighting in the Minto-owned community.
“There’s a huge lack of lighting,” said Carleton University student Christina Barr, 19. “Unless you’re right in front of a building there’s no lights. So walking down these paths at night, it doesn’t feel safe at all.”
Barr, who lives in a building along Baseline, said she has heard of a few incidents of physical assault in the area over the past year, though she regularly sees security walking around the buildings. Like other residents, she said the front door to her building is propped open a lot of the time.
“For most of the time that I’ve lived there, the front door never actually locked,” said student resident Ellen O’Connor, 21, who has lived in Deerfield for over a year. “So anyone could come in. I’m not sure if the issue was ever raised to Minto, but it only just got fixed recently.”
At the time of publication, the Times found there was at least one building in the Minto development on Deerfield with a broken lock on its main entrance, allowing access to the elevator as well as individual apartment entrances inside the building.
“This [the sexual assault] was a truly unfortunate incident that Minto is very concerned about and we are fully cooperating with the police in their investigation,” said Roger Greenberg, CEO of Minto Group to the Times via email. Regarding property maintenance and regulations, he continued, “ … We have one of the best response rates in the industry for service issues.”
The suspect is described as a white male of average build, around 35 to 40 years old with a black jacket and dark jeans. He is around five feet 10 inches to six feet tall, has dark hair with a receding hairline and speaks English.
According to a representative for the Ottawa police sexual assault and child abuse section, the investigation is ongoing and progressing.
Anyone with more information should contact the Ottawa police sexual assault and child abuse section at 613-236-1222 ext. 5944 or Crime Stoppers at 613-233-8477 (TIPS).