UPDATE: The 15-year-old suspect was denied bail during a court appearance on Monday.
TORONTO - Young female police officers who went undercover putting themselves in "harm's way" are being credited with the arrest of a 15-year-old boy following an investigation into a string of sex assaults that have terrorized a Toronto neighbourhood since this summer.
Toronto police said the youth, who cannot be identified, was arrested Saturday night and is facing 14 counts of sexual assault and two counts of criminal harassment.
Sixteen women have reported being attacked in the downtown neighbourhood since mid-August, police said.
"We had women in our organization who put themselves in harm's way, who went out in that community and put themselves at risk, knowing that if they were successful in their mission, they could also be the victim of an assault," police chief Bill Blair told a news conference Monday.
"As a result of their courage, this investigation has been successfully concluded.”
The accused, who was not previously known to police, was arrested at the scene of the latest incident on Oct. 20.
He was scheduled to appear in Toronto youth court Monday.
Blair said in most of the incidents, women told police they had been approached from behind and were sexually assaulted by a male who then fled.
He would not go into more detail about the nature of the assaults, citing that the case is now before the courts.
The police chief would not say the arrest came as a result of a "sting" operation, only that it came following the diligent work of a large group of officers.
"(We had) our people working around the clock and left no stone unturned," he said.
The police hope this arrest brings a sense of security back to the community.
"These crimes that took place throughout the month of August and then later in the fall caused a tremendous amount of fear within our community," said Blair.
"Fear, particularly among women, and their sense of safety in their own neighbourhood was taken from them as a result of these crimes.
Police said a search warrant was also executed late Sunday but would not disclose the location.
Following the arrest, officers notified each of the victims, with the last one contacted early Monday morning.
Investigators said their probe is ongoing, and asked anyone who may have been victimized to come forward.
"We're not going away. (Officers are) going to continue to be present in that community, visible in that community and working hard to maintain the safety of that community," said Blair.
He added that he is limited in what he can say about the accused due to restrictions of the Youth Criminal Justice Act.