A 21-year-old man is charged with attempted murder, aggravated sexual assault and kidnapping after a six-year-old girl — who remains unconscious in an Edmonton hospital — was attacked and left in the snow Saturday near her rural Paul Band home.
“This is a horrific incident,” said Supt. Gary Steinke, announcing the charges at Edmonton’s K-Division on Monday.
The child was attacked and left outside in the snow for several hours until she was found in critical condition by family members. Around 4:44 p.m., she was flown by STARS air ambulance from the scene about 75 km west of Edmonton to the Stollery Children’s Hospital, where she remains in serious, but stable condition.
Steinke, officer-in-charge of the RCMP serious crimes unit, said that after the child was found, the action of the community to catch the assailant was swift.
James Clifford Paul, of no fixed address, was arrested just before midnight on Saturday at the Alexis First Nation, about 140 km northwest of Edmonton.
“This arrest came about very quickly because local citizens picked up their phones and called investigators with information that they needed to take this dangerous criminal off the streets,” said Steinke, adding the accused was known to the girl, but the relationship to the family is still under investigation.
The “horrific” case has not only impacted the community but the first responders as well. “They (police) are out there, they did their jobs and it’s a tough one,” he said.
Paul Band First Nation released a statement on Sunday, stating the victim’s family is asking for privacy at this time.
“As of right now they just really need some time to deal with everything,” said Shaun Green.
“Obviously this is very devastating for everyone.”
Police said the accused is known to authorities, mainly in other jurisdictions.
Court documents show Paul has a history of violence, with upcoming court appearances for assault, unlawful confinement and mischief in Cochrane, Glenevis and Edmonton. He is set to appear in Edmonton court on the latest charges Jan. 7.