Two men have been arrested following a report of a sexual assault at St. Francis Xavier University.
The incident happened in a residence over the weekend. It was initially reported to the university, but the victim wanted further action and took the matter to the RCMP.
“The investigation is in its early stages. It obviously is a complicated investigation and does remain ongoing,” says Jennifer Clarke, spokesperson for Nova Scotia RCMP.
The two men have been released on conditions. The RCMP say charges are pending for both.
The university says it is taking the matter “extremely seriously.”
“We've got a policy in place dealing with sexual violence that makes it very clear it's not something tolerated by the university,” says Andrew Beckett of St. FX Student Services. “Our first priority is to first of all take a presumption of belief with the victim.”
St. FX adopted a sexual assault policy for the first time in September 2016. Beckett says there are two immediate actions: make sure the victim is taken care of, and then ensure the rest of the university community is out of harm's way.
“This is not the first time we've dealt with these types of things,” he says. “In terms of its frequency, we've been very fortunate. These do happen and I don't think we can hide from the fact that sexual violence is present on our campus as it is on all campuses. It's something that's a conversation across the country.
Many St. FX students feel the same way.
“I'm glad they're doing something about it obviously, because sexual assault is clearly a big deal. We don't really hear about it much on our campus, which is a good thing,” says student Danielle Carley.
“It does shock me a little bit because the environment here is just so awesome,” says student Ryan O’Hearn. “Everyone loves each other. It was a little shocking to hear about, but I think everyone still feels pretty safe.”
The university says the entire community has been informed of health and counselling services should they need them.
Consequences in the university’s policy state most found guilty of sexual assault are expelled. While the investigation is ongoing, access to campus for the accused is only to attend classes.
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Laura Brown.