By Adam Brazeau
CORNWALL, Ontario – Dated sexual assault statistics that paint Cornwall in an unfavourable light are exploding on social media, and city police chief Dan Parkinson says those numbers are being taken out of context.
"To my knowledge we don't have rapists lurking around every corner attacking women," said Parkinson. "Nonetheless, the numbers are troubling."
A rash of tweets and Facebook posts lit up local social media, detailing a 2010 article from Maclean's magazine which suggests Cornwall is the Canadian city with the highest percentage of sexual assaults in the country.
The Maclean’s item listed the Seaway City as the top offender in a list of 100 cities in the country where the average incidence of sexual assault was 62 for every 100,000 members of the population.
Cornwall was listed at 152 per cent of the average. Saint John, NB was second – with 86.5 per cent of the average. But the numbers are nearly four years old, and Parkinson suggested readers take them with a grain of salt.
"The fact that the article was reposted from an article in Maclean's magazine that's about four years old, was bit of a surprise," he said. "It certainly caught a lot of attention. It was reposted and retweeted a number of times."
Parkinson said people want to exist in a fast-paced media-driven society.
"Articles like this get posted and reposted without much thought being put into them. It's a push of a button, it's instant. They're sharing something they think is meaningful," he said.
Parkinson spent a great part of his day attempting to “contextualize and justify” the police and the City of Cornwall in regards to the article.
"Social media can sometimes prove to be a problem. It's there for our use and for information sharing, but sharing used news and old information sometimes isn't helpful,” said Parkinson.
Parkinson noted the Cornwall Public Inquiry gave salient direction for the city to move forward as a community to deal with the issue of sexual assault.
"There have been strides taken to address the problem of sexual assault," said Parkinson. "I can hopefully assure the people of Cornwall, the public or anyone else who wants to visit us here, that many of the sexual assault cases that we deal with in Cornwall are intra-familial sexual assaults."
Parkinson said those incestuous-type of sexual assault cases are not stranger-on-stranger, they're committed by the family members of the victims.
Annual Cornwall sexual assault incidences (provided by CCPS):
2008 – 96
2009 – 85
2010 – 65
2011 – 74
2012 – 90