Its been the week from hell for officials at Western University as the school welcomed students back for the resumption of in-person learning after 18 months of pandemic. While campus and city police were dealing with social media reports that a number of first-year female students who had just checked into the Sydenham-Medway residents had been drugged and at least two sexually assaulted; came a report of first-year student being killed in an altercation just off-campus.
Social media exploded with reports that up to 30 young women had been “roofed”–administered a drug that rendered them unconscious- and that two had been sexually assaulted. One student told CP 24 news that she saw girls lying in the street outside the student residence on the night in question.
London Police are investigating the allegations and say in a release that they had been made aware of four other sexual assaults the previous week.
In an unrelated incident, an 18 year-old Barrie youth, Gabriel Neil died Sunday night after a violent assault near Western University. Police have arrested and charged 21-year-old Aliyan Ahmed on one count of manslaughter in connection to the incident. Police responded to a report of an assault at the intersection of Western Road and Sarnia Road — near the Western Student Recreation Centre — at 2 a.m. on Saturday. Officers found one man at the scene suffering serious injuries and transported him to hospital where he remained in critical care.
Gabriel Neil, 18, had just graduated from high school in Barrie and was in his first days at Western when he was assaulted near what friends say was his residence, He’s being remembered as a kind friend and strong student who dreamed of becoming an army doctor. A fellow Western student said “that they had never seen so much blood in their lives.”
On the sexual assaults, Western University President Alan Shepard denounced sexual violence but also revealed, “unconnected to what we’re seeing on social media, Western has received four formal complaints of sexual violence from students over the past week. We have taken swift and strong action in these cases, including facilitating arrest and removing students from residence while investigations are ongoing. These cases do not appear to be connected to each other”—an apparent reference to the four assaults described by police, although police did not discuss arrests.
On the death of Gabriel Neil, President Shepard said, “We are devastated by this senseless loss and are heartbroken for his family, friends and all who knew him. While this terrible tragedy is unconnected to the other incidents this weekend, I know it has resulted in heightened concern for safety on campus. Please be assured this case is being thoroughly investigated by LPS, and a suspect from the London community is in custody. We are all experiencing a difficult start to the school year – and I am certain no one feels this more deeply than our students. We are here for you.”