Image copyright Metropolitan Police Image caption The girl was found in a bathroom of the Red Lion hotel in Yorkdale on 8 October
A member of the Royal Canadian Air Cadet programme in Canada has been charged with sexually assaulting a 13-year-old girl in Yorkdale shopping centre in Toronto in October.
The girl, who was part of the group, disappeared on the morning of the incident.
Police say she had been dancing on and touching people while in the group’s vehicle.
The Cadet Program is a national youth development, training and education programme that has been operating since its inception in 1925.
Members must complete an adult supervised fitness exam and then also go through full police checks as well as a background and mental health screening.
Who is the suspect?
Defence lawyer Stephen Kasier told CTV that the suspect was being helped by the Cadet Program and he was “very responsible” for the girl’s safety.
However, Mr Kasier said he could not reveal what sort of profession the suspect worked in at this time.
“There are no rational controls on a group of young men,” he said.
“There is no greater champion of what we are supposed to be teaching these boys, and these girls, is the Cadet Program. I do believe he should not be allowed in that programme.”
In a statement, Yorkdale mall’s general manager Nick Hill said it had fully co-operated with the police investigation.
Mr Hill said that the incident occurred inside a property staff area in the mall which the company had since closed.
“The victim in this incident is a 13-year-old girl who joined us as a new member of our family,” he said.
“We sympathise with her and her family as they deal with this tragedy, and appreciate the patience of our customers who may be seeking comfort and information as we have enhanced security in our shopping centre.”
Police were initially told the girl was a stranger to the group.
But in an update to the investigation, police later said in a statement that it appeared she had been “taken advantage of by a group of individuals”.
Image copyright Metropolitan Police Image caption Police confirmed the girl was a Cadet from one of Canada’s ‘fastest growing institutions’
In September, the Met Police sent out photos of a group of white male teenagers that they believed to be involved.
Pictures of the group were later found on the phone of the suspect, who is also thought to have made phone calls to the girl while she was missing.
Image copyright Metropolitan Police Image caption Police said the girl’s family had been informed and was being supported
The group was not apprehended until the following morning after officers checked into the Red Lion Hotel in Yorkdale on 8 October.
Detective Superintendent Glenn Reeves, head of the sexual crimes unit at York Regional Police, said the group had been moving through Yorkdale and nearby attractions during the time of the crime.
“Even though many of the individuals are young, it is not unusual for potential victim to remain compliant in nature,” he said.
“The sexual assault of this young girl wasn’t reported until almost a day after it occurred. She did not report it for more than 24 hours.
“During that time, the individuals could have moved on.”
Image copyright Metropolitan Police Image caption Investigators have recovered a CCTV image of one of the suspects in the hotel bathroom
Police have recovered footage of the incident from the video-monitoring system in the hotel’s public areas.
The girls have been transferred to a safe space and the Royal Canadian Air Cadet has confirmed the suspect is not a member of the cadet programme and he is not currently a cadet.
On 2 February, two other Cadet Program members were arrested in connection with an alleged sexual assault on a 12-year-old in north-eastern Ontario in 2014.
The case is still before the courts.