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Assault victim criticizes police

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SASKATOON -- A woman who was violently attacked along the riverbank last month fears that her assailant is still on the loose.

"Whoever did it is capable of murder and they're still walking around," said Cynthia Janisse, 19, who now has a large scar on the left side of her head and has lost hearing, at least temporarily, in her left ear. The muscle control on one side of her face was also affected.

She thinks she knows who hit her and wonders if police have yet to make an arrest because they aren't taking her case seriously. Janisse recently moved to Saskatoon from Kitchener-Waterloo and had no permanent address at the time of her attack.

Police said this is not the case and their probe continues.

Janisse's ordeal began some time before she woke up near the South Saskatchewan River one Saturday in June. She was bleeding from a head wound she later learned was inflicted with a blunt object, like a baseball bat or rock. It narrowly missed an artery.

Janisse vaguely remembers dragging herself up the riverbank and collapsing on a "nice old man's porch" on Saskatchewan Crescent. The man called an ambulance, which transported her to hospital, where she had surgery.

"I would've definitely bled to death ... if I hadn't woke up and gotten out of there," she said in a recent interview.

Janisse and between 15 and 30 others were gathered at a fire pit near the riverbank between the Broadway and University bridges on the evening of June 13.

Around 9 a.m. the next morning, she went to sleep at the party site, she said. According to Janisse, there was only one person around when she fell asleep.

She woke up later that morning to discover her injury.

Janisse and friend Joey Acoose, who was also at the party, said the one person nearby, a male, was likely the one who wielded the blunt object and struck Janisse.

"As far as I'm concerned, all the evidence leads to him," Acoose said.

The police, however, say they haven't come to any conclusions yet.

Acoose said he came across blood, a suicide note and jacket at the party site several hours after the attack.

Janisse is now staying with a friend in the city.

While Janisse believes her homeless status made police take her less seriously, police spokesperson Sgt. Lorne Constantinoff said that's not the case.

Sgt. Lorne Mulder of the major crime unit said Cynthia and one other individual must go through more interviews for the case. He said that homeless people are victims of crime no more frequently than anyone else.

He said the alcohol consumed before the incident is more commonly associated with crime.

Janisse and Acoose are participants in Saskatoon community youth arts programming's (SCYAP) urban canvas project. SCYAP told Janisse she had been approved to enter the program while she was in hospital.

She said if this incident has a silver lining, it's that the attack and related events have inspired her art.