Editor’s note: This article mentions and discusses sexual violence and assault.
A social media post that sparked safety concerns in Vancouver and led to more than $15,000 in donations contained incorrect information, according to police.
The posts began circulating in early November, detailing a disturbing recent attack on a woman from Mexico. The posts claim she was abducted and sexually assaulted after leaving a pub near Powell Street and Victoria Drive. She was then allegedly left at Queen Elizabeth Park.
“She was found having been brutally assaulted. Her injuries are extensive, and she will require a considerable amount of time to heal physically and emotionally. She will also require extensive dental care as she lost three teeth in the assault,” the posts read in part.
The posts led to many concerns and questions, and when asked, Vancouver Police said they had not received a report of this nature and were appealing for the victim to come forward.
However, many in the community felt compelled to respond and help.
A GoFundMe was launched by Annelie Free on November 6, and has since raised thousands in online donations. Free’s fundraiser admits they do not know the victim personally.
“Every cent of this fundraiser will be used as it was fundraiser for; Amor’s VGH bill, her flight home to Mexico and the dentistry as well as specialists. She is now fighting an infection and her bills will likely exceed what we have raised,” the online fundraiser reads in part.
On Tuesday, a spokesperson for the Vancouver police said they have determined that the social media posts contained incorrect information, and that investigators “do not believe this incident was sexual in nature and we do not believe anyone was abducted.”
“It also contained information that we have not been able to corroborate. The nature of the post, combined with media reporting prior to facts being corroborated by police, caused increased and unnecessary alarm throughout the community,” VPD Sgt. Steve Addison said Tuesday.
Addison said that the person mentioned in the posts has met with investigators and received support.
“She has been forthcoming with police and has provided useful information to our investigators. We do not believe she was responsible for the inaccurate information that was posted online and reported in the media,” Addison explained.
“At this point in the investigation we do not believe there is a risk to the public.”
Daily Hive has reached out to the organizer of the GoFundMe to inquire if donations are being returned as a result of the new information shared this week and will update this story if that information becomes available.
With files from Nikitha Martins