Investigators seek witnesses of sexual assaults at Pacific Centre mall in Vancouver and at massage business in Surrey

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      Although suspects have been identified in two separate sexual assault cases in the Lower Mainland—one in Vancouver, the other in Surrey—police are seeking to speak with more witnesses in order to advance these investigations.

      Downtown Vancouver mall

      According to a Vancouver Police Department (VPD) news release issued today (September 2), an employee working at Pacific Centre Mall witnessed a man approach a woman from behind and groped her buttocks around 5 p.m. on August 27.

      Based on witness accounts, the sexual assault is believed to have taken place near the escalator near the American Eagle store, VPD spokeperson Const. Tania Visintin stated in a news release.  

      The suspect fled as mall security called 911 as they chased after him.  

      Police located the suspect on a bus near Hastings and Abbott streets—although he was taken into custody, he was later released, pending further investigation.

      Visintin explained that in order to gather more information to lay a charge, however, police need to speak with the woman who was sexually assaulted.

      Investigators are asking for this woman to contact police, as well as anyone with any further information, by calling the VPD at 604-717-4034.

      Surrey massage

      In a separate case, Surrey RCMP stated on September 1 that an investigation into a sexual assault at a massage business remains ongoing and investigators are searching for more witnesses.

      In March, Surrey RCMP received a report about a woman sexually assaulted during a massage at Shri Professional Massage, located at 1105–7360 137th Street in the Newton area of Surrey.

      RCMP officers arrested 56-year-old Shri Rampol of Surrey on June 22 on a warrant for sexual assault.

      He has been charged with sexual assault and he was released from custody on conditions, including being prohibited from performer any massages on female clients or patients unless a third-party female (who has knowledge of his release conditions) is present.  

      Anyone with information relevant to this investigation is asked to contact Surrey RCMP at 604-599-0502.

      “We know that it can be difficult for people to come forward and speak to police about sexual assaults,” Surrey RCMP spokesperson Const. Sarbjit Sangha stated in a news release. “We want to assure the people who come forward with information that if you need support through the investigation and court process, we can engage our victim services for assistance.”

      You can follow Craig Takeuchi on Twitter at @cinecraig or on Facebook.