Vancouver Police have arrested a man in connection with a string of sexual assaults dating back to 2009.
Arturo Garcia Gorjon, 45, was arrested in Regina, Sask. on July 21. He has since been charged with four counts of sexual assault related to the assaults between July 1, 2009 and Dec. 24, 2010.
Police say he didn’t have a prior criminal record and wasn’t known to police.
VPD Deputy Chief Const. Fiona Wilson said it was physical evidence that helped lead investigators to Gorjon.
The investigation dates back to Canada Day 2009.
In the early hours, a 20-year-old woman was attacked by a stranger and sexually assaulted walking near Granville Island.
“The assault was violent and unprovoked,” said Wilson, adding witnesses intervened but the suspect got away.
The on Nov. 15, 2009, there was a second unprovoked sexual assault. A 25-year-old woman was attacked from behind and sexually assaulted while entering an apartment building in the West End. The suspect fled once again.
Wilson said the attacker struck a third time seven months later. On June 12, 2010, a woman was sexually assaulted in Yaletown.
A few months later, on Christmas Eve, a fourth woman was attacked in an incident like the others.
“It was clear that young women were being targeted by a predator in the downtown core. And with evidence collected in each case, we soon theorized that one person could be responsible for all four stranger attacks.”
From there, police launched Project Scrimmage with dozens of investigators on the case. Wilson said they leveraged what was “considered at the time to be an innovative strategy of leveraging technology,” by placing QR codes in bathroom stalls in downtown clubs and bars “with hopes that someone would come forward with a missing piece of evidence we needed.”
Wilson said police received tips from the public initially, but the case went cold.
Then in January, VPD obtained evidence linking the first three sexual assaults with the fourth on Christmas Day 2010. Wilson said she couldn’t disclose what the evidence was, but later when prompted by reporters, said it was physical evidence.
That evidence led police to Gorjon who was in Regina at the time.
He has since been charged with four counts of sexual assualt. His first court appearance was Aug. 17 and he has since been released from custody and is believed to be living in Vancouver.
I can completely understand that the public would have concerns about their safety. I think that’s very, very understandabl and I don’t want people to live in fear or change their behavior.”
Wilson said police have been in contact with the four women.
“I know none of this will change what happened to these women and I suspect nothing will permanently erase the trauma they’ve lived with. However, I do hope this arrest and these charges begin to provide the answers and accountability that has been missing for so many years.”