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Saturday, April 9, 2011

York University (Toronto) campus disturbed by potential homophobic attack, police release security images of suspects

By Irene Preklet -

TORONTO, Ont. - Several campus and student groups at York University are set to meet Friday night after what appears to be a targeted attack on a lesbian student.

Some York University students have reported feeling uneasy around campus after word of the violent attack spread.

Valerie Bustros told 680News she was using a woman's washroom Tuesday night when a man stopped her and said she was using the wrong one.

"I went into the bathroom and a gentleman opened the door and told me it was the ladies room," Bustros said of the incident. "I told him I was just a lesbian, not a dude."

The man and two of his friends were waiting for Valerie when she left the bathroom, at which point she was attacked.

"And then his friends were around me, at this point I don't know who or what is hitting me, I know I have one guy I'm on the floor with, who was kicking me in face," Bustros said.

Alastair Woods of the Trans Bisexual Lesbian Gays Allies group at York said while he was shocked by the assault, he wasn't completely surprised.

"As a gay man who goes here to university [York], while thankfully I haven't experienced any physical assault, I've been teased, I've been called names and I definitely have experienced homophobia on campus," Woods said.

What surprised Woods most about the incident was where it occurred.

"The fact that something like this could take place at a crowded pub night just outside the doors in a university building, it's very disconcerting," Woods said.

Mamdouh Shoukri, President and Vice-Chancellor at York University, released a statement Friday morning condemning the attack.

"I was deeply disturbed and upset to learn that a member of our community reported being verbally and physically assaulted this week at Winters Absinthe pub. This reported assault is distressing to all of us," Shoukri said in the statement. "York University Security Services responded quickly to the incident and offered counselling and medical treatment to the community member. In addition, our security services are cooperating with Toronto Police Service in their investigation."

The statement also said the university would do everything it could to prevent another incident like this from occurring in the future, but many students, especially those in the gay or transgender communities, are still on high alert around campus.

"I have spoken to many queer and trans[gender] students that we serve here at TBLGAY who are worried about their safety," Woods said.

Police have released security images, as well as a description, of three suspects believed to be involved in the attack.
Suspect one is described as brown, 20-30, 5'4", 140 lbs., with black hair. He was last seen wearing a black jacket and blue jeans.

Suspect two is described as brown, 20-30, thin build, brown eyes and black hair. He was last seen wearing a black coat and dark jeans.

Suspect three is described as brown, 20-30, 6', 160 lbs. with brown hair. He was last seen wearing dark jeans.

Anyone with information is asked to contact police at 416-808-3100, Crime Stoppers anonymously at 416-222-TIPS (8477), online at, text TOR and your message to CRIMES (274637), or Leave A Tip on Facebook.


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