Vancouver Police have issued an "extraordinary" appeal for witnesses in an effort to keep a man suspected in multiple sexual assaults behind bars.
Martin Daniel Tremblay, 45, was arrested recently on drug charges along with 11 other men in a police operation targeting violent drug gangs in and around the Downtown Eastside.
Inspector Dean Robinson said that the RCMP also suspects Mr. Tremblay in connection with an investigation of sexual assaults involving teenage Aboriginal girls, including the deaths of Kayla LaLonde, 16, and Martha Jackson Hernandez, 17, in March, 2010. Mr. Tremblay spent 14 months in jail after he pleaded guilty in 2003 to sexual assault cases.
Mr. Tremblay's arrest was part of the Project Rescue initiative. The 11 others, ages 27 to 45, face charges including drug trafficking, sexual assault and forcible confinement in connection with incidents in the Downtown Eastside.
As well as information about the RCMP investigation, police on Friday released a photograph of Mr. Tremblay and information about his previous crimes in an attempt to encourage victims of the sexual assaults to come forward with evidence that might help keep the Downtown Eastside resident in jail.
"We don't usually tell you about a person's extensive criminal record or that we suspect their involvement in many unsolved crimes, but this time is different," said Inspector Robinson. "The only way we can guarantee that he won't harm more women is if he stays in jail."
At least 14 Aboriginal girls have come forward as witnesses, but some are still waiting to speak to investigators, said Mona Woodward, executive director of Aboriginal Front Door Society, a resource centre for aboriginal people downtown. Women's groups unsuccessfully tried to persuade the courts to classify Mr. Tremblay as a dangerous offender in 2003. Ms. Woodward criticized the police and justice system for releasing Mr. Tremblay without conditions eight years ago.
Mr. Tremblay was charged with drugging girls, ages 13 to 15, and shooting videos of himself assaulting them while they were unconscious. Some of the girls learned of the assaults during the trial when they were shown still photos from the videos.