A case study in misinformation: How the sexual assault of a “young nurse” was used by the police and premier to justify encampment sweeps


A young nurse whose story of sexual assault was politicized by the Edmonton Police and the Premier of Alberta in order to justify escalating Edmonton’s brutal encampment sweeps says he doesn't believe they were assaulted by unhoused people—and that they want the Premier to stop using his story for political reasons.

Jordan, which is how we’ll be referring to him throughout this article, posted their story to Reddit on March 1. We verified that Jordan was the person in question behind the post. They told us that they’re horrified by the politicization of their story by the Premier and the police.

“I don’t believe I was assaulted by unhoused people, I didn’t ask for my story to be used by Danielle Smith and Chief Dale McFee to justify the ongoing sweeps of our unhoused neighbors and I didn’t ask for the premier and the EPS to reveal details of my identity and my sexual assault to the public,” said Jordan. 

The incident

Jordan was assaulted by three men on Dec. 16, 2023 at about 1 am. As he was walking home from a party to celebrate entering the last year of nursing school, someone got his attention at the corner of Rowland Road and Alex Taylor Road in the river valley.

“The person seemed frantic, and asked for help, because their friend was not breathing and they didn’t have a cell phone. Being months away from becoming a registered nurse and having many encounters with overdoses in the downtown communities, I figured it was going to be another one of the countless times I would be helping someone out of a bad situation,” said Jordan in the Reddit post. 

But when Jordan approached to help, he says the men attacked him. Eventually Jordan fought the three of them off and escaped. 

“In hindsight, I’m very fortunate for this to not have affected the way I see things as a whole. At the end of the day, I would go back into those bushes, but I would be safer about it without a doubt. Being alone, I would in the future secure a line with emergency services, but I can honestly say that this hasn’t changed my outlook on the city around me,” said Jordan. 

“I do have some memory of the people who attacked me, but being incredibly low light, in the bushes, late at night, I have very minimal recall of any sort of facial features. The thing I have such a clear memory of is their jackets. North Face, Canada Goose. Nice, almost new even. I honestly do not believe in my heart for a moment that I was attacked by homeless people,” said Jordan. 

The misinformation begins

On December 18, 2023, two days later, a lawyer representing the Edmonton Police Service used graphic sexual details from Jordan’s case in open court to argue that eight encampments needed to be immediately swept.

In their press release the EPS claimed that “as [Jordan] neared an encampment at that location, he was approached.” EPS did not specify which encampment Jordan was supposedly nearing. The nearest of the subsequently cleared encampments to the site of the attack on Jordan was at Rowland Road and 95th Street, but Jordan told us that he had already passed it, and was about 250 metres away from it, at the time of the attack. 

Danielle Smith was quick to incorporate Jordan’s story into her rhetoric. Smith tweeted out on Dec. 19 that, “this recent story is going to be difficult for many to read,” while tweeting out a screenshot of CTV News story with the headline, “Three men sexually assault man near downtown encampment,” with a picture of the encampment at Rowland Road and 95 Street. 

According to the EPS’ own lawyer, the encampment in the photo CTV ran for the story was not the site of Jordan’s assault. This error was never corrected by EPS, Danielle Smith or CTV. 

As Smith kept telling Jordan’s story, her telling became even less accurate. Smith was caught on tape telling an even more lurid version at a private black tie dinner at the Ranchmen’s Club, billed as “Alberta’s first and only Platinum-ranked private club.”

In her speech to the elite Calgary crowd Smith talked about “dangerous dudes” who were burning unhoused people to death in their tents for not paying protection money to gangs. She specifically referenced Jordan, telling the crowd about a “young nurse who was raped by three people as a part of a gang initiation.” The fact that Jordan was a nurse had never been publicly disclosed by the police. 

Premier Smith’s reply

After speaking with Jordan, we brought Jordan’s request to stop talking about his case to the attention of Smith’s press secretary, and asked how Smith could have heard the details of the incident. Smith’s office did not respond.

I worked with Jordan to come up with questions to ask Smith in order to investigate this matter further. On March 26, I got a chance to ask those questions at a press conference that was about the province’s response to homelessness

“Well, I’m certainly not talking about the case as you know it was just brought up by you,” replied Smith.

“I have talked about a number of other cases. There are lots of reasons for why we address this issue. I think the fact that we have 700 connections to 200 services it proves out why we needed to do this. The chief can tell you any number of stories about violence that occurred, about deaths that occurred so I’d be happy to turn it over to him so he can give you a couple of other examples… Let me just turn it over to the chief,” said Smith. 

At that point Chief Dale McFee shook his head and refused to answer our question.

When I asked Smith how she learned that Jordan was a nurse, and why she claimed it was a gang initiation, she seemed to suggest that the identifying details about Jordan had been leaked to her in a cabinet meeting.

“Look, we had a cabinet committee meeting. We have a number of people who are on that cabinet committee. We had seven ministers, we had the chief of police, we had staff members. I can’t recall who specifically but I’m not going to repeat the trauma of that individual by continuing to talk about his case,” said Smith. 

Jordan watched the press conference on the live video stream. 

“I wasn’t expecting much but that’s pretty much what I was expecting. She gave the jibe of a child, when she said, I didn’t bring it up, you did,” Jordan told us afterwards. “I’m ready to start moving past this. I know for sure where she stands on this.”

After the press conference was over circumstances led to me being on a short elevator ride with Premier Smith, her security detail and her chief of staff, Marshall Smith. I offered to connect the Premier with Jordan so she could speak to him directly. The Premier walked away silently, while her chief of staff told me “no more questions.”

When I told Jordan about the exchange he sighed. 

“It’s maybe for the best. She doesn’t feel that it’s necessary and that’s something she’s got to live with, not me. Everything was put into her hands and she was given an opportunity to do something and she didn’t.”