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Edmonton police charge Ontario man in 1981 sexual assault case

File: Edmonton Police badge.
File: Edmonton Police badge. The Canadian Press Images/Francis Vachon

A 66-year-old Ontario man has been charged in connection with a sexual assault that happened in Edmonton in 1981.

Modern forensic and DNA testing were used to help solve the crime, Edmonton police said in a media release Wednesday morning.

On Sept. 18, 1981, Edmonton police responded to a sexual assault in the area of Lancaster Terrace and 156 Avenue. At around 3:30 a.m., police said a 36-year-old Edmonton woman was in a parkade, getting out of her vehicle when she was accosted and sexually assault by an unknown man.

The man then stole the woman’s purse and left the area, police said.

READ MORE: Historic sexual assault now included in Edmonton police online crime reporting

Police conducted an investigation at the time but said they were unable to identify the suspect.

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In October 2018, the file was reevaluated by the Edmonton Police Service’s Historical Crimes Section. Officers used forensic testing to develop a DNA profile of the suspect. Using the national DNA data bank, police said the profile pulled up a match.

With the help of the Ontario Provincial Police, John Edward Beausoleil was arrested at his home in Orilla, Ont. on Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2020. Police said Beausoleil was 27 at the time of the attack.

Staff Sgt. Ryan Tebb with the EPS Historical Crimes Section said in 2016, the police service took it upon itself to review all outstanding sexual assault files to see if any could be revisited with modern-day investigative techniques.

“There was no magic to it, it was just the fact that we took the time to go back and review our files. That didn’t happen by accident,” he said.

“Through that process, we identified another 259 files that currently make up our case load for our cold case sexual assaults.

“It just reinforces the fact that we haven’t forgotten about these files and that we are still looking for opportunities to move some of these investigations forward.”

READ MORE: DNA evidence leads to arrest 43 years after couple killed in Wisconsin

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Beausoleil has since been transported back to Edmonton where he is facing charges of rape and robbery under the 1981 Criminal Code of Canada.

Tebb said the victim has been made aware of the charges.