A sex attacker has been targeting women in the Annex area.
Credits: QMI AGENCY
TORONTO -- A teenager is accused of being a sexual predator who terrorized women in a west-end neighbourhood, Toronto Police said Monday.
Chief Bill Blair announced at a press conference that an arrest was made over the weekend in more than a dozen sexual assaults dating back to the summer.
And the accused serial sex attacker is only 15 years old.
"(The assaults) caused a tremendous amount of fear within our community, fear particularly among women, and their sense of safety in their own neighbourhood was taken from them as a result of these crimes," Toronto's top cop said at police headquarters.
The brazen attacks began July 4 -- sometimes occurring more than once on the same day -- in a small area bounded.
The victims, who ranged in age from 16 to 29 years old, all described being approached from behind and sexually assaulted.
Detectives recognized the similarities in the string of attacks and publicly revealed more than a month ago that a sexual predator was on the loose in the neighbourhood.
The investigation came to head Saturday around 11 p.m. when a woman was allegedly sexually assaulted while walking in the area, police said. Officers pounced and arrested a suspect at the scene.
Blair suggested there were female cops working undercover in the area, but he wouldn't say if it was one of those officers who was attacked.
"We had women in our organization who put themselves in harm's way, who went out into that community and put themselves at risk, knowing that if they were successful in their mission, they could be also the victim of an assault," Blair said. "As a result of the courage shown by those individuals, this investigation has been successfully concluded."
Blair refused to elaborate now that the case is before the courts.
Staff-Insp. Mary Lee Metcalfe of the sex crimes unit said the victims were notified prior to Monday's press conference that a suspect had been arrested.
She also said it is rare for such a young person to be accused in a string of sex assaults.
"It is not something that we encounter on a regular basis," Metcalfe said.
The accused, who can't be identified under the Youth Criminal Justice Act, is charged with 14 counts of sexual assault and two counts of criminal harassment.
He made his first court appearance Monday and remains in custody after being denied bail.
The investigation is ongoing and police are urging anyone with information to contact investigators at 416-808-7474 or Crime Stoppers at 416-222-TIPS (8477).