Police have made an arrest in connection with a violent central Hamilton sex assault that sent a woman to hospital with life-threatening injuries on Monday morning.
A spokesperson for Hamilton police says a 24-year-old man from the city, whose name has not been released, appeared in court Thursday facing an aggravated sexual assault charge.
“The suspect responsible for this senseless beating and sexual assault has been identified and was arrested last night at approximately 10 p.m. by detectives without incident,” Const. Indy Bharaj said in an e-mail on Thursday morning.
The offences stem from an attack that took place around 3 a.m. near Barton Street East between Emerald Street North and Oak Avenue on June 27.
“Hamilton Police were flagged down by a witness in the area of 353 Barton Street East after a female was found to be seriously assaulted in a nearby alleyway,” police said in a release.
“Investigators have determined based on evidence that this assault contained a sexual component and are treating this as a sexual assault investigation.”
A 46-year-old woman remains in critical condition and unconscious at a local hospital as a result of the incident.
In a presser at central station on Wednesday, Det. Sgt. Steve Berezuik confirmed a witness saw the woman, a sex trade worker, enter the alley with a male suspect, and heard her screaming for help a short time later.
The man fled the scene on foot, heading west on Barton, but left behind his jacket — described as black and white with a NASA logo.
Investigators are acknowledging the help they’ve received from the public that aided in the arrest on Wednesday.
Jelena Vermilion, with the Sex Workers’ Action Program (SWAP) Hamilton, says her agency has been in contact with the victim’s family who revealed injuries as a broken nose and cheekbones.
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“So she’s had to undergo surgery to deal with those injuries, and yeah, we’re just we’re scared” Vermillion told Global News.
The advocate says the matter is a “terrible example” of a need to change the law to provide better circumstances for people who are victims of crime, especially when they’re violent.
SWAP is one of 25 sex worker rights organizations, a part of the Canadian Alliance for Sex Work Law Reform, currently a part of a lawsuit against the federal government in the vein of the Bedford challenge in 2013.
“Ultimately, sex work is a class issue,” said Vermillion.
“People who are often already intersectional and marginalized in the world and don’t have the same opportunities economically as … people who aren’t relegated into doing sex work.”