Sexual assaults under investigation

Police say incidents from Homecoming 2006, Frosh Week 2007 involve alcohol

Sergeant Balwant Dhillon of the Kingston Police says alcohol is the number-one date rape drug.
Sergeant Balwant Dhillon of the Kingston Police says alcohol is the number-one date rape drug.

Kingston police are investigating two incidents of sexual assault in the Queen’s community.

The victims of both incidents were female Queen’s students, said Sergeant Balwant Dhillon, head of the sexual assault unit.

“During the 2006 Queen’s Homecoming one sexual assault was reported to Kingston Police and the victim in that case was a female,” he said at a conference Tuesday.

“During the 2007 Frosh Week celebrations two more sexual assaults were reported to the Kingston police and both victims in those two cases were female.” One of the two Frosh Week cases has been closed, Dhillon said, but the other is under investigation along with last year’s incident.

For privacy reasons, Dhillon said he couldn’t release the ages of the victims or the accused, but he said alcohol was a factor in all three assaults.

The police have suspects for one of the two cases still under investigation. In all the cases the attackers were male.

Of the two sexual assaults that occurred this Frosh Week, one of the victims knew her attacker.

Dhillon said the police are publicizing this information on sexual assaults at Queen’s in order to make the public aware of the risk.

“If we release information, we’ll release it about a specific case if we think the need arises in the community or the public if there’s something they need to be aware of or something they can assist us with,” he said at the conference.

“I can say that in all three cases, alcohol was involved,” he told the Journal.

Because the rates in which sexual assaults are reported to the police are so low, Dhillon said most cases are kept private to respect the privacy of all parties involved, and to encourage others to come forward.

“In most cases, we try and respect the privacy of the victims and the accused because we can’t release information about one and not the other,” he said. “The reason we do that is so people will come forward at a later time. If the public thought that we were talking about specific cases and situations, they may not be so forthcoming.” Dhillon said Homecoming has been a special concern for the police, particularly regarding underage first-year students consuming alcohol. “We’re going to be dealing with a lot of young people,” he said. “Most of them are not of legal drinking age and have little experience with consuming liquor, and their alcohol tolerance will not be as high.”

Dhillon said date rape drugs are an issue to some degree, but the majority of sexual assault cases reported to the police involve alcohol alone. “We’re putting the message out that alcohol is the number one date rape drug,” he said. “We can talk about GHB or Ketamine, but the reality is alcohol is the number one date rape drug.”

Tuesday’s conference was meant to raise awareness about safe consumption of alcohol during Homecoming.

“With Homecoming, it’s going to be one of the largest parties of the year, so there’s no better time to put the message out,” he said. “Students can have an idea what to do if they’re out in a situation they don’t want to be in.”

Dhillon cautioned partygoers to remember sexual assault can happen anywhere, and to be careful no matter where they are.

“These situations can happen anywhere. Parties, public functions, sometimes when you least expect it to happen, it can happen,” he said. “Unfortunately, most people think it’s never going to happen to them.”

Dhillon said there are a number of variables to consider when consuming alcohol.

“Body weight, amount of sleep you’ve had, how much you’ve had to eat, and your tolerance to alcohol are all variables,” he said. “If you’ve been drinking for a while, you kind of get to know that through trial and error. But if you’re inexperienced, we don’t want people to find out the hard way.

“The reason I’m focusing on first-year students is because most of them are under the age of majority,” he said. “Most of the second-year students are most likely 19 years of age and up, and will have more experience [drinking] than the first-year students.”

Dhillon said anyone who has been sexually assaulted should report it to the police.

“We’re professional, we treat everything with confidence and there’s nothing we haven’t heard before,” he said. “If people or students want to come and speak with us about something that’s happened to them, by all means, do so.”

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