THREE HILLS, Alta. – A Bible school in central Alberta is tightening security after its president says five students were touched and propositioned while sleeping in their dorm rooms during an orientation for first-year students.
RCMP said a man matching the description of a suspect captured on surveillance video at the Prairie Bible Institute in Three Hills turned himself in at the local detachment Monday.
Officers did not release his name or say what charges he might be facing.
The school’s president, Mark Maxwell, said the suspect is not a present or past student. And the students are rattled but OK.
“They’re resilient kids,” he said.
“Really, you can’t underplay the fact that no one was physically injured. Being accosted? Yes. Victimized? Yes. But at least (the offender) didn’t become so aggressive that he was injuring people, physically.”
About 150 first-year students arrived at the school northeast of Calgary on Saturday to attend information sessions and a concert. Many also lugged boxes and suitcases into their new dorm rooms.
The building was wide open all day, said Maxwell, but was supposed to be locked at night.
Early Sunday morning, about 6 a.m., the culprit apparently got in through a ground-floor window, one that may have been left open or unlocked, Maxwell said.
The intruder landed in the men’s wing of the building, roamed around and snuck into four unlocked rooms, he said.
“He woke up people, the guys who were in those rooms, by touching their legs, and asked for sexual favours,” Maxwell said.
He said the intruder encountered two other students in washrooms. One, a dorm leader, didn’t recognize the man and yelled at him to get out of the building.
He continued through the building and discovered an open door leading into the women’s dorm section, said Maxwell. The door is alarmed but because it had been left open, no emergency signal went off.
The man walked into another unlocked room, touched a female student on the leg and asked to have sex, said Maxwell.
“She freaked out as well and called police immediately.”
By that time, RCMP had already received two other calls and were on the campus, he said. The man managed to get away on a bicycle.
The building was evacuated for the rest of the morning while officers searched the school and looked for evidence. Students were confined to the dining hall, where they had an unusual Sunday worship service, Maxwell said.
Students probably felt safe enough in the Christian school to leave their dorm rooms unlocked, he suggested.
It will now be recommended that they lock their doors. Night security is also being doubled from one to two staff, who will patrol the campus and specifically check to make sure all windows are locked, Maxwell said.
— By Chris Purdy in Edmonton