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2 weeks later, little known about Western University sexual assaults posted online: police

Western University students painted their bodies with the words No and with black handprints to protest sexual assault and gender based violence at Western University on Sept. 17, 2021. Sawyer Bogdan / Global News

Two weeks after multiple reports on social media about Western University students being drugged and assaulted, London, Ont., police say they have not been able to find evidence to support the posts.

According to social media posts, 30 or more students may have been drugged and/or assaulted in Medway-Sydenham Hall during the first week back to school.

The multiple reports prompted London police to open an invitation in partnership with Western University.

During the week of Sept. 13, police visited Medway-Sydenham Hall to talk to students and find any possible victims or witnesses regarding the incidents that came to light on social media channels.

Police say after speaking with more than 600 people including residency staff, students and residency assistants, officials have received no formal reports of a Medway-Sydenham Hall resident being drugged and sexually assaulted.

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“We have been unable to substantiate information circulated in social media posts about widespread incidents of that nature,” a release from London police read.

Read more: Western University, London police urge survivors to come forward amid social media reports of student assault, druggings

Following the incidents, both the London Abused Women’s Centre and Anova reported receiving multiple calls in connection to the online social media posts.

After the initial reports, AnnaLise Trudell, manager of education, training and research at Anova told Global News on Sept. 15 that the true number or impact of what happened may never be known.

“It important to know we may never know,” Trudell said. “We know most survivors do not go through formal reporting processes for valid and legitimate reasons, so how many and what sort of variety or iteration – we may not know those details.”

Click to play video: 'Western University students stage walkout over sexual abuse allegations' Western University students stage walkout over sexual abuse allegations
Western University students stage walkout over sexual abuse allegations – Sep 17, 2021

In their update on Friday police did acknowledge many victims of sexual assault struggle to come forward.

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“We understand that individuals experience inflicted trauma in ways that are unique to them alone and that there is no “standard” response on the part of victims and survivors to sexual violence,” the statement read.

Read more: Western University students walk out in wake of sex assault claims: ‘Protect our campus’

Police also emphasized the fact that “victims and survivors of sexual assault are not obligated to participate in a police investigation.”

“We know that, for a variety of well-documented reasons, incidents of sexual violence are generally underreported, and that victims and survivors who were initially reluctant to report may decide to come forward with their disclosure at a later date.”

London police say their investigation into possible incidents of sexual violence at Medway-Sydenham Hall will remain open and continue to encourage any victims to come forward.

Anyone who has experienced sexual or gender-based violence can contact Anova’s Crisis Line 24/7 at 519-642-3000, LAWC 519-432-2204, or the Abused Women’s Helpline at 519-642-3000.

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