October 17, 2016 - 11:37 AM
QUEBEC - Laval University officials say they've stepped up security at a student residence following a rash of break-ins and allegations of sex-related crimes currently under police investigation.
Quebec City police said their investigation was ongoing and that at least nine tenants at a Laval University student residence said their units were broken into and four among them claimed they were victims of "crimes of a sexual nature."
No arrests have been made and police are combing through surveillance video and speaking to witnesses in an effort to identify a suspect or suspects, Pierre Poirier, a Quebec City police spokesman, said in an interview.
Poirier said all of the incidents took place overnight Friday — either late Friday night or in the early hours of Saturday morning — at the Alphonse-Marie Parent Pavillion.
There was never any violence or need for breaking down doors as they were either unlocked or open, Poirier said.
"In those nine cases, there are four that included incidents of a sexual nature," Poirier said, declining to elaborate further due to an ongoing investigation.
Early Sunday, a police spokesman had provided more specific details before police walked back on that information in a statement on Sunday night, providing fresh information on Monday.
Meanwhile, university officials said they were shocked by the incidents.
"Our hearts go out to the victims," vice-rector Eric Bauce said in a statement. "We unreservedly condemn the reported crimes and have been working tirelessly since with the authorities to advance their investigation."
Andre-Anne Stewart, a Laval University spokeswoman, told reporters the university is providing psychological counselling to the complainants.
Stewart said students were contacted in the hours after the reported break-ins and reminded to lock their doors.
She said there wasn't usually a security guard on site, but additional resources have been deployed since the weekend.
Stewart said the residence doors are locked as of 11 p.m. and there are working cameras and there is a security presence as guards continuously patrol.
"We are like a mini city here, there are 40,000 people who circulate daily," Stewart said. "The security does an exceptional job on campus."
News from © The Canadian Press, 2016