A 38-year old man has been charged in connection with the sexual assault of a woman near the VIU campus in Nanaimo.

Const. Gary O’Brien, Nanaimo RCMP spokesman, says that the incident occurred on Feb. 21 at around 11 a.m. as a 23-year-old female student was walking along a foot path near the Rotary Bowl running track. He adds that the student was on her way to write a mid term exam when the assault occurred.

As she walked along the path she noticed a man leaning over a bicycle. “He struck up a short conversation with her and proceeded to walk with her towards [VIU]. At one point, he reached over and grabbed her buttocks and tried to grab at her breast area,” O’Brien says.

The victim fled towards the University campus. “She went to the exam initially but realized that she couldn’t focus,” O’Brien says. She reported the assault to campus security, who then contacted the RCMP.

Based on the description provided by the victim, the RCMP were able to locate and arrest the suspect within an hour near Jingle Pot Road.

“If it was not for the quick thinking of the student and her detailed statement, an arrest may not have occurred,” Mark Egan, VIU health and safety services co-ordinator says. “It is extremely important to report incidents immediately.”

Daniel Raymond Sasseville was charged with one count of sexual assault on Feb. 22 and was remanded into custody. O’Brien adds that Sasseville, who is well known to police, will remain in custody until a further evaluation can be preformed.

O’Brien adds that RCMP is looking into whether the incident may be related to a series of sexual assaults that were reported in the last few years with no arrests made. “We are certainly looking at that but it’s too early in the investigation to make any determination whether this incident is related to those or not.”

Egan adds that the student was offered counselling Services from both VIU and from Victim Services.

The sexual assault occurred one week after VIU students held a rally on campus to try and put an end to violence against women.