A viral claim about a woman being sexually assaulted and kidnapped in East Vancouver that raised more than $15,000 was inaccurate, according to police.
On Nov. 4, a social media post started circulating, wrongly claiming a woman had been abducted and sexually assaulted.
Instead, police believe the woman sustained injuries from falling off a scooter.
Glacier Media reached out to Vancouver police about the social media post and reported on Nov. 10 that the incident was not sexually motivated and that there was no risk to the public.
Vancouver police concluded their investigation on Nov. 29 and say the social media post stoked community fear after misinformation went viral.
Sgt. Steve Addison says there was never a risk of harm to the public as a result of the incident.
“The fear was spread wide by people who unknowingly shared information that was not accurate,” says Addison.
Police officers spent three weeks reviewing security video, interviewing witnesses and collecting medical information.
“We have confirmed that this was a case of misadventure — not a violent crime,” says Addison.
An investigation was launched on Nov. 4 following a claim that a man dressed all in black sexually assaulted a woman while she was walking away from a pub near Victoria Drive and Powell Street.
The post suggests the woman had been severely beaten, had her teeth knocked out and was "dumped" in a park. It also suggested the woman had been drugged while inside the bar and targeted by a predator who was still at large.
Police confirm that the woman left the pub around closing time, but what happened after that was completely different.
"The woman flagged down a passerby on an electric scooter and hitched a ride on the front, but quickly fell off and struck her face on the pavement,” says Addison.
Police believe the injured woman left the area, contacted a friend for help and was taken to the hospital.
The injuries sustained during her fall from the scooter may have contributed to some memory loss or confusion.
“After speaking with the woman involved, retracing her steps, and conducting an extensive video review, we have now confirmed that she was not the victim of a violent crime," adds Addison.
The woman was visiting Canada from Mexico and is now back home.
“She was not responsible for the misinformation that was spread online and in the media, and it appears the misinformation was shared by people who did not take the time to find out what had really happened,” says Addison, noting police thoroughly investigate "every allegation brought forward" and "victims of crime will be fully supported through the investigative process."
A GoFundMe was created by Annelie Free for the woman and has raised more than $15,000 from the public. The fundraiser is still active.