Niagara police say alleged sexual assault did not happen

A St. Catharines woman has been charged after police say she “willfully misled” investigators by reporting a sexual assault that did not happen.The 22-year-old woman told police she had been accosted and sexually assaulted by a group of five men shortly after 3 a.m. on March 31.The woman alleged the attack happened while she was walking down a lane way in the area of Clifton Hill and Victoria Ave. in Niagara Falls.“After a three week investigation, Detectives from the Sexual Assault Unit formed reasonable grounds to believe that the incident as reported did not occur,” said Niagara police in a news release. “It is alleged that the complainant willfully misled police, by reporting that an offence had been committed when it had not been.”The woman was arrested on Thursday and charged with public mischief. She has been released from custody and is scheduled to appear in court at a later date.Niagara police are reminding residents that allegations of sexual assault are treated very seriously. “The NRPS is sensitive to the fact that it is very difficult for victims of sexual assault to come forward, for a number of reasons, including a potential fear that they may not be believed,” said police. “Investigators hope that this incident does not negatively impact the willingness of others to come forward and wish to stress that in this case, the investigation and evidence gathered led to a belief that the accused willfully misled police.”

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