A 26-year-old woman is speaking out after pulling out her cellphone to record a confrontation with a man she says sexually assaulted her at the Duncan Walmart Tuesday night.
In the short clip posted on Facebook that night the woman accosts the man she is accusing of grabbing her while she was shopping at the store shortly after 6 p.m.
“I kind of noticed this guy following me and thought maybe he’s a secret shopper,” she said on Wednesday morning. “I kind of look like a young kid …. I just thought he’ll leave me alone once he realizes I’m not stealing.”
She said the man proceeded to follow her through several different sections of the store for what she estimated was 15 minutes before the alleged assault occurred.
“As I picked up the pack of toilet paper and I had my hands full he came up from behind me with his left hand and just like really hard grabbed my butt,” she said. “I was just put into shock and so violated I didn’t even know what to do at first. I watched him walk around to the end of the aisle and look back with a big smirk on his face.”
That’s when the woman decided to pull out her cellphone and go after the man who was already trying to flee from the store.
“I thought about it and just dropped all my stuff right there in the middle of the aisle and just started full force running to catch up to him because I could see him zig-zagging across the aisles to get away from it,” she said.
The alleged perpetrator — a bearded man who appears to be in his 20s — is seen in the video, which was viewed by The Chronicle but since removed from Facebook, as he tries to turn his back to avoid being seen before muttering “sorry” and “super inappropriate.”
The woman gave statements to police both over the phone from the store and later in person after the video she posted went viral.
Facebook users were quick to identify a suspect and posted screenshots of his social media accounts, including LinkedIn and Instagram in the comments section of the post.
North Cowichan/Duncan RCMP confirmed they are investigating a case of innapropriate touching.
“A male has been identified, however, charges have not yet been laid,” said Cpl. Tammy Douglas. “The file remains under investigation.”
The woman says she is now speaking out publicly about the incident because of the sexual assaults and missing men and women both in Cowichan and across Vancouver Island.
“You never know who the person doing that could be. It was more important to me to get good footage of his face to be able to show other people look out for this man,” she said, encouraging people to be aware of their surroundings.
“I’ve had a guy slap me on the butt at a bar but I’ve never had a guy grab me like that. Both situations are by no means OK.”
And while she was in shock and angry after the incident took place, emotions then turned to fear and anxiety.
“It makes me feel weird about how I dress now. You don’t really want to make yourself look like a temptation,” she said. “Right after I just wanted to get different pants on but I didn’t want to go home until I had someone to go home with me,”
The woman is satisfied that the RCMP are investigating and plans on pursuing criminal charges.
“I’ve feeling better today now that I know something is going to be done about it,” she said.