South-end harassment alarms King's, Dal students

There have been two reported incidents of harassment at this intersection in the last three weeks. (Photo: Heather Gillis)

There have been two reported incidents of harassment at this intersection in the last three weeks. (Photo: Heather Gillis)

Some King's and Dalhousie university students are thinking twice about their safety around their campus at night after a man reportedly sexually harassed an 18-year-old woman in the south end on Thursday.

Police say the man followed the woman to the Coburg Road and Oxford Street intersection, near the University of King's College campus, and touched the woman's hair. The woman yelled, ran away from the man and called police shortly after the incident around 6 p.m.

"The woman did the right thing by fleeing the suspect and finding a safe area to call for help," says Const. Brian Palmeter, spokesman for Halifax Regional Police.

Palmeter says it is unusual that this incident happened at an intersection with lots of traffic during that time of day.

Tracy Leask, an undeclared science student at Dalhousie, was surprised to hear that the incident happened so close to her school.

"It's crazy," says Leask. "I've been under the assumption that this was a really safe part of town."

Police say Thursday's incident was the second time the woman was approached by the same man in the same place. The first incident took place over three weeks ago, where the man made comments about her attire but didn't touch her.  She didn't report this at the time.

"Unfortunately these types of incidents aren't reported so it makes it difficult to figure out if other incidents have taken place," says Palmeter.

Palmeter says there were no witnesses. The police are looking for more information on the suspect, described as a five-foot tall white male in his mid-20s wearing all black clothing.

South-end connection?

Jillian MacDonald, an international development studies student at Dalhousie, says this incident makes her more nervous about walking and living in the south-end area.

"With all the south-end stalker business it's just another thing to add on top of the list to be scared of," says MacDonald.

Palmeter says there is no clear connection between these incidents near King's and a series of south end intrusions that have happened in the last two years. He says the main suspects in both cases are different in height by nearly a foot.

However, he says the investigators of the intruder cases have been notified of these incidents.

"We've taken that step to keeping an open mind just in case," says Palmeter.

"No control"

Catherine MacIntyre, a journalism student at King's, says it is important to be careful when walking home at night, but realizes it's difficult to avoid being harassed suddenly.

"You don't have any control over when something like that happens to you," says MacIntyre.

Palmeter disagrees.

"I think the best thing people can do is to be alert and not make themselves an easy target," he says. "Just be more aware of your surroundings."

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