October 25, 2002

Police Investigate Assault in C-Town; Cornell Responds

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In a university-wide crime alert sent on Wednesday evening, Cornell University Police and the Ithaca Police Department revealed details of an attempted assault in Collegetown. The incident took place at 3 a.m. on Oct. 10, a day before classes adjourned for Fall Break.

According to the alert, a female University student was walking along Oak Avenue, within a block of Collegetown Bagels and the Center for Theatre Arts, when she was grabbed from behind by an unidentified male assailant. The victim was able to protect herself by spraying the attacker in the face using a can of pepper spray she carried.

The University issued the alert Wednesday, nearly two weeks after the incident, “to warn students, particularly female students, that this guy is still out there,” said Linda Grace-Kobas, director of the Cornell University News Service.

Investigators also hope to gather more clues by issuing the alert, according to Grace-Kobas. To date, police know the following about the perpetrator: he is college-aged white male, about six feet tall, with a medium build and a round face with no facial hair. He was last seen in a dark, long-sleeved shirt and dark pants, according to the alert.

Tovah Heller ’03, who lives near where the attack occurred, expressed shock.

“It’s a little scary that it happened so close to home, and in view of CTB,” Heller said.

Despite this anxiety, she has not altered her routines since she learned of the attack.

Julie Boden law, also a resident of the block where the attempted assault took place, argued that although Ithaca is thought to be a safe place, “We still live in a city, and no one is untouchable.”


Boden also remarked that last year a street light was out on the corner of Oak and Summit Avenues, steps from where the attack took place this month. Boden feared then that someone could “come around from the corner in the dark.”

However, today, even with the light functioning, it may not be possible to see an attacker ahead of time.

To limit the possibility of becoming a victim of an attack, Grace-Kobas detailed general precautions police recommend everyone should follow. While on campus, she said, use the blue light phones to report suspicious activity or to call for help; take advantage of the University’s escort service; try not to walk alone at night; and, in general, be aware of your surroundings.

Archived article by Michael Dickstein