Edmonton Bathroom Rapist

Hank C
Wrong man wrestled down by crowd of nervous Edmonton parents

EDMONTON (CP) - A group of parents wrestled down an innocent man on a playground Friday afternoon after a seven-year-old girl who had been molested earlier in the week said she thought he was her attacker.

But police released the man without charges after just a few hours of questioning. "He was the wrong guy," said police spokeswoman Karen Carlson, noting that investigators were able to determine the girl had only seen the man from behind.

The drama unfolded as school was letting out for the day and parents - nervous after the Grade 2 girl was groped in a school washroom on Monday - were arriving to escort their children home.

Ironically, it was the first day back at school for the little girl herself. Her uncle was with her on the playground when the dishevelled-looking man walked up and asked for a cigarette.

"We just saw this guy walking through the playground," said Brian Wong, one of those who held down the man. "He matched the description of the guy. My wife and I looked at him and said, 'that must be the guy.' We grabbed him and said 'we have some questions here.' He started taking off. We tried to get a hold of him until the cops showed up."

Witness Rob Shrestha said the man was shouting and that four people were grabbing at his hands and legs to keep him from getting away.

Carlson said one thing that helped police rule out the man as a suspect was the length of his beard - it was too long to have been grown in only a few days, and the man who attacked the girl was clean-shaven.

"This little girl went through a traumatic situation only a few days ago," Carlson said.

"In cases like this, the first time somebody who's been traumatized sees somebody who is even remotely similar to the person in question, (it) can cause them to fear, and cause them to say something that might in fact not be true."

The parents on the playground weren't taking any chances.

"It looked like him for sure," said Kyla Mackey, one of a group of parents that were gathered on the playground as school was letting out.

"When they drove away, he just glared at all of us. It was freaky. Then we all cheered."

The girl was attacked Monday morning when she stopped off at the washroom on her way outdoors during recess. Police said a man hiding in one of the stalls came at her, dragged her into the stall and groped her before she managed to escape and tell a teacher what happened.

The assault led to a lockdown at the school and an intense police manhunt through the neighbourhood west of the city's downtown. It also prompted school officials to require students to travel in pairs to the washroom.

People throughout the city have been on edge all week. A hairdresser made headlines when she reported that a man fitting the suspect's description came to her salon and asked to have his hair died, then ran away when he found out how much it would cost.

And the tension was felt elsewhere, too. School officials in Winnipeg became enraged when a television reporter staged a report showing how easy it was for him to access washrooms in some elementary schools in the city.

ŠThe Canadian Press, 2006
Hank C
hah, I feel sorry for the man. I was watching the news the night they caught him and he look like he was a street bum. Poor guy was jumped, maybe we can up his welfare cheque this month?
Eeeeeeeeeeek, scary that the real guy is still out there!!
Hank C many of the Homeless people in Toronto (not all of course) don't even get welfare. Some are to proud, others too lazy and some suffer from mental health issues which may prevent them from seeking help.

Many just want to be left alone. Of course this is not all of them.
The school where the assault (not rape) occured is across the street from my apartment. Every black guy in my neighbourhood has become a "suspect" since this occured. The true criminal will probably never be caught.
This should have said "alleged assault"..most children are very good at lying. If you have a few of your own,after awhile you doubt every word out of their mouths.
Was the perp's description ever printed for the public?

It seems many people "recognized" the man in the washroom incident - but I don't see a description of him here in the CP article.

How can people go around saying they recognize the perp when a composite picture isn't available - or was it put on television and the article was published before that happened.

The public can't just go around willy nilly assuming every lookalike is the real deal.... makes fools of everyone.

Has to be a good description if law enforcement are serious in catching him.

Another question: Don't schools have camera monitors in their halls and door entrances?
I have to agree with missile. It is possible the girl lied.
yes it's highly possible, Jersay.

This type of thing is really upsetting - it launches everyone into 'hyperalert' mode. My daughter's school, which is nowhere near where the incident happened, had a report of a naked man hiding in the bushes within about a week of this incident. Was it true? Who knows, I advised my daughter to take a different route to school, I couldn't help but hope it was just the work of a child's over active imagination...

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