Jen Kripki isn’t sure she’ll ever run the Meewasin Trail near the University of Saskatchewan alone again.
The expectant mother reported she was sexually assaulted during a Monday morning jog and is warning others to be on their guard.
“More than anything I want to bring awareness and try to warn as many people as possible that he’s out there,” she said.
Kripki, who is six months pregnant, was jogging along the trail behind the Royal University Hospital parkade when she heard a bike approach from behind. She moved over to allow the bike to pass, but soon realized the rider had slowed down.
A man on a mountain bike rode up beside her and Kripki recognized him as a man who passed her going in the opposite direction a few minutes before. The man, still riding his bike, then reached out and grabbed her buttock and groin.
“I sort of yelled and jumped back and he took off cycling down the path,” Kripki said.
Kripki caught a glimpse of the man jumping off his bike and running into the bushes with it. She continued to yell at him and tell him she knew he was hiding. The man then rose from the bushes and took off on his bike.
Because her pants didn’t have pockets, Kripki did not have a phone. She found another woman who had a cell phone, then a university maintenance staff worker allowed her to radio in a report to campus security which was then forwarded to Saskatoon police.
“In the moment, I was frightened and startled at first,” she said. “I was more angry. I was a little nervous when I was yelling at him to come out of the bushes. When he came out, for a moment I thought he was coming right at me.”
Kripki said she was surprised someone would attack in broad daylight. She plans to carry her phone with her from now on and only jog along the path in groups. She said she plans to press charges if police find a suspect.
“I’m also hoping that this helps other women come forward as well to help prevent these crimes,” she said.
The incident happened on the day the university launched its annual Sexual Assault Awareness week and a day before the school released its new sexual assault policy. Kripki’s report brings the total number of incidents at the university to 12 in six years.
Across the city, Saskatoon police said so far this year they have had 139 reported cases of sexual assault. With a few months left to go, the number is lower than last year’s 207 incidents and the 206 in 2013. However, Statistics Canada research indicates only six per cent of all sexual assaults are reported to authorities.
People who do not report may instead choose to only contact groups like the Saskatoon Sexual Assault and Information Centre. Assistant director Heather Pocock said of their client base, 16 per cent report to police, more than double the national average. However, others may choose to deal with immediate trauma and report the incident later. There is no time limit on reporting sexual assaults.
Mirroring national statistics, only 9.9 per cent of the centre’s clients were assaulted by a stranger. In 30.8 per cent of cases, the centre did not collect data on who committed the assault. While the centre’s number of clients has remained relatively stable over the past decade, the demographic is getting younger, Pocock said.
“We’ve been doing more child abuse training and education in schools so we’re seeing more children as a result of that,” she said. “What that means is we are reaching children and children are learning that they have a right to speak out and they are seeking help.”