The YMCA on South Park Street is beefing up security at its student residence after a 24-year-old woman was attacked Tuesday night in the women’s washroom.


At 11:15 p.m., the lights went out in the washroom and the victim said she was grabbed from behind and held by a man wearing a mask. She screamed and struggled, breaking free.


Her screams alerted YMCA staff and tenants, who called 9-1-1 and held the man till police got there.


“She wasn’t physically hurt. Obviously, it was traumatic,” Halifax Regional Police Const. Jeff Carr said.

Khalid Alharbi, 19, was in Halifax provincial court yesterday, charged with assault, forcible confinement and wearing a disguise.

Both the victim and the suspect were residents of the YMCA’s student dormitory, which houses about 20 people. Each resident shares washroom, kitchen and laundry facilities with the others.

Bette Watson-Borg, president of the YMCA of Halifax-Dartmouth, said yesterday the Y will move quickly to put keypad security locks on its common washrooms, to ensure male residents can’t get into the women’s washroom.

“We’re taking it very seriously,” Watson-Borg said. “We work really hard to provide a safe environment.”

Residents apply to get into the building, and pay $400 a month rent. The YMCA doesn’t house transients anymore, Watson-Borg said.

She thanked police for arriving so quickly, and said the victim went to her regular classes yesterday morning.