Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Winnipeg man faces sex assault charges after 11-year-old girl attacked

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WINNIPEG - A picture of a car and an eagle-eyed citizen helped Winnipeg police make a speedy arrest in the alleged sexual assault of an 11-year-old girl.

Detectives had been searching for what they described as a "sexual predator" after the girl was attacked while walking between a friend's home and a roller skating rink in a rough neighbourhood about 3 a.m. last Saturday.

The girl was offered a ride by a man she didn't know. She accepted, but instead of heading towards the roller rink, she was taken to a secluded area in the same neighbourhood, threatened and seriously sexually assaulted, police said.

They quickly launched a public campaign to catch a suspect. They released security camera images on Tuesday to the media of the silver Hyundai Accent they believed was used during the assault. They also gave out a description of the driver.

Someone saw a silver car and a man that matched the description early Wednesday.

"It was somebody driving down the street, and they recognized the vehicle, and the description of the driver, and called police," said Const. Blair Good.

Officers arrested Timothy Torres, 22. He was charged with sexual assault, sexual interference, invitation to sexual touching, uttering threats and forcible confinement.

The assault left many people wondering why an 11-year-old would be allowed to walk by herself late at night.

"I can't imagine why an 11-year-old would be around here at that hour. You gotta wonder what her parents were doing at that time," said a man who works in the area. The man, who did not want his name published, said he would be uncomfortable walking around the neighbourhood late at night.

Early on, Norm Boudreau of Beyond Borders, a child-protection organization, suggested the girl's parents or guardians should face criminal charges under federal or provincial legislation. But Boudreau said it's unlikely the Crown would pursue charges.

Child welfare officials are reviewing what happened. That's automatic in cases where a child is abused or mistreated, even if it's by a stranger.

Each situation is handled differently, but part of the review is to make sure the child's home is safe, a spokeswoman for Manitoba's child protection branch said earlier this week.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 20, 2007

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