UPDATE: Western “very troubled” by reports of sexual assaults, London police investigating

In the midst of sexual assault allegations that have drawn national attention, Western University and local police are asking those impacted to come forward.

The university has been investigating claims that multiple women were assaulted at Medway-Sydenham Hall. 

Residence Life Coordinator Jacob Clarke emailed students about “rumours” of incidents of gender-based or sexual violence in that have taken place inside the 613 bed residence.

“We are currently following up with information that has come forward and will be utilizing campus and community resources such as Campus Safety and Emergency Services and London Police Services as needed,” Clarke wrote. “We wish to ensure that follow up occurs with anyone who has experienced harm.”

Just before 5 p.m. Monday, London police issued a statement about the situation stating they are aware of the claims being made on social media and have launched an investigation as a result.

“Given the seriousness of the allegations raised in relation to incidents occurring at Medway-Sydenham Hall, the London Police Service has opened an investigation and we will work collaboratively with Western University to identify and support any victims and ensure a thorough investigation is conducted,” part of the release read.

London police added that as of Monday afternoon, no formal reports have been made regarding the alleged incidents at Medway-Sydenham Hall. However, sometime in early September, police say they received two reports of alleged sexual assaults that occurred at other locations on Western University campus.

The reported assaults remain under investigation and police plan to examine possible linkages to any unreported incidents. According to police officials, all reports of sexual assault made to the university are turned over to the London Police Service immediately for investigation.

“We are committed to thoroughly investigating all complaints of sexual assault whether reported to us directly or referred to us through a third party. Further, along with our community partners, we will fully support those who come forward. We encourage anyone who has experienced sexual violence to report the incident to police so that the matter can be fully investigated.”

Earlier Monday afternoon, the university’s twitter account posted a thread about the issue.

We are very troubled by the incidents reported over social media this past weekend. We are working hard to clarify and confirm these reports. #WesternU

— Western University (@WesternU) September 13, 2021

“We are very troubled by the incidents reported over social media this past weekend. We are working hard to clarify and confirm these reports,” the first tweet said.

However, they added they don’t have information suggesting widespread, coordinated sexual assaults.

So far, we have received very little information related to these reports, and we’re asking anyone with more details to come forward to #WesternU or @lpsmediaoffice.

— Western University (@WesternU) September 13, 2021

The university has received four formal complaints of sexual assault the thread said. But the cases do not appear to be linked, or related to the social media posts about Medway-Syndenham Hall.

Western has mechanisms for students to access sexual assault assistance without filing a formal complaint.

#WesternU students can access support and resources without filing a formal complaint. Western’s safe campus community policy also encourages community members to report incidents by making a disclosure. https://t.co/9kmGgcdx0J

— Western University (@WesternU) September 13, 2021

The university has had negative attention related to sexual assault before. The Unfounded series in the Globe and Mail focused on an assault at Western, while multiple convocation speakers were blasted by the community for making sexual jokes during their speeches.

-With files from Ruby Sweeney

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