Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Grunthal teen assaulted by three men

RCMP investigate after officers find her on highway

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GRUNTHAL -- Residents of a Manitoba town are in shock after news surfaced a teenaged girl from the Grunthal area was abducted by three men and sexually assaulted last weekend.

RCMP said it's believed the girl was riding her bicycle in the Grunthal area around 7 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 11, when she was grabbed by three men in a car, who took her to a secluded area and sexually assaulted her.

RCMP spokeswoman Sgt. Line Karpish said patrolling officers spotted the girl walking west on the Trans-Canada Highway near Deacon's Corner at about 12:30 p.m. Sunday and stopped to check on her well-being.

Karpish said that's when she told them she had been abducted and sexually assaulted the previous night. Following the assault, the girl said the men drove her to the highway, where she was dropped off overnight.

She was taken to hospital for treatment.

Grunthal is located about 40 kilometres south of Winnipeg.

"She was taken in a red Honda Civic the night before and found the next day by our officers," Karpish said. "Over the course of the night, she was assaulted."

News of the attack came as a shock to area residents, who describe Grunthal as a close-knit, family-friendly town.

Henry Funk, councillor for the RM of Hanover, said until the RCMP made the announcement, there was no inkling in the community anything of that nature had taken place.

"Something like this has never happened here before," Funk said. "We feel our kids are safe. We all feel we are safe."

About 1,200 people live in the community, he said, and most people know one another.

Residents say it's the kind of place where parents feel it's safe to let their children ride their bikes to the playground or the park unsupervised.

"It's kind of disturbing. I have three little ones," said Laurie Dyck, outside the local grocery store.

"It seems like a city thing, not a small-town thing. It's scary."

RCMP have asked for the public's help in identifying the three men.

The first suspect has long blond hair, a piercing on his left ear, a beard, hazel eyes, and was wearing a white shirt and blue jeans. The second suspect had short brown hair, a moustache, and was wearing a red shirt and blue jeans. The third man had brown hair and green eyes, and was wearing a black shirt and blue jeans.

Police waited several days to release details about the incident, Karpish said, because investigators needed time to know what occurred before going public with the attack.

Police are not releasing the girl's age for fear she could be identified.

More than 500 Grade 5 to 12 students attend the local school. Several area teenagers said they were unaware of the abduction and assault and plan to take extra precautions around town.

"I definitely won't be walking around town alone anymore," said 14-year-old Cassidy Esau.

Karpish said the girl did not know her abductors.

Anyone with information is asked to call the RCMP St. Pierre Jolys detachment at 204-433-7433 or Manitoba Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 (TIPS).

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition August 18, 2012 A5

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