03/22/2013 11:30 EDT | Updated 05/22/2013 05:12 EDT

Michael Edward Farley Arrested In Vancouver Sex Worker Attack

VANCOUVER - Vancouver Police have laid charges in connection to a kidnapping and "horrific" beating of a woman in the city's Downtown Eastside who was dragged behind a moving van as she tried to escape.

Officers arrested a 39-year-old New Zealand citizen, who they said was working as a handyman and using the alias Robert Clarke.

Michael Farley is charged with eight counts, including aggravated sexual assault, assault causing bodily harm and kidnapping.

Farley had been in Canada for two years prior to the attack, and police said they couldn't comment on his history in New Zealand.

Insp. Laurence Rankin said officers picked up a man for violating immigration laws on behalf of the Canadian Border Services Agency just days after the assault, but only concluded he is a suspect in the attack in following weeks.

Investigators gathered more evidence after putting out two public appeals for information, and Farley was taken out of CBSA custody and back into police custody Thursday, when he was arrested.

"We knew we had a particularly horrific case of kidnapping, and we wanted to take every step possible to find the attacker," said Rankin.

Officers allege the 42-year-old victim was picked up against her will, driven to a secluded area, tied up and beaten during the incident on March 4.

Several witnesses called 911 as they watched the woman being dragged behind a white van down a city street.

Police believe the woman partially freed herself and, fearing for her life, attempted to jump from the moving vehicle.

The woman suffered serious cuts, road rash and a head injury but was able to give officers a description of her attacker.

She spent several days in the hospital and is now recovering at home.

Angela MacDougall, executive director at Vancouver's Battered Women's Support Services, said she is glad to see issues of violence against women in the Downtown Eastside being taken seriously.

"We must acknowledge the heroism, the courageous effort of the woman in this case, who has experienced extreme trauma by this man," said MacDougall.

"After over 22 years and a history of prolific violence against women and the result of the violence of one particular serial killer, we now have a sense that when women in the Downtown Eastside experience violence, the violence will be taken seriously."

"Women in the neighbourhood need to know that when they experience violence that the system —in this case, the Vancouver Police Department — will care and will follow through."

Robert Pickton used the Downtown Eastside as a hunting ground for his victims. He was convicted in 2007 for murdering six women, but the DNA or remains of 33 women were found on his Port Coquitlam, B.C., pig farm.

Police could not comment on any further details about the victim.

Farley is now in custody pending a court appearance.

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Downtown Eastside, Vancouver