September 1, 2012

Police Warn Cornell After Report of Two Sexual Assaults, One Incident of Harassment

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Update with information about third attack, statement from Vice President of Student and Academic Services Susan Murphy ’73 and Vice President for Human Resources Mary Opperman

Police are urging Cornell students “to take prudent and necessary safety precautions” after two sexual assaults and one incident of harassment were reported Sunday.

Thirty minutes before an alleged rape occurred near the suspension bridge on campus, a different female victim was reportedly forcibly touched in her Collegetown home at 3:15 a.m. Sunday morning, according to the Ithaca Police Department. On Sunday night, the University said that a third female victim reported being forcibly touched while walking through Hughes parking lot early Sunday morning.

The victim of the forcible touching reported in Collegetown, who lives at 205 College Ave., said she answered a knock on her door to find an unknown male asking for someone who did not reside there, police said.

The resident told the male subject that she was unfamiliar with the person he was asking for and attempted to close the door on him, according to police.

The male, however, allegedly forced his way into the residence. After a brief struggle, he put his arm around the victim and reached under her dress, police said.

The female victim was eventually able to push the intruder from her home, according to IPD.

The victim said the assailant was a college-aged Hispanic male with dark hair, between 5’9” and 5’10” tall, with a mole on one cheek. At the time of the attack, he was reportedly wearing a white long-sleeve button-down shirt and plaid knee-length shorts, police said.

The subject was last seen headed in the direction of Collegetown. The victim reported the incident to the Cornell University Police Department at 8:05 a.m. Sunday morning after reading an earlier crime alert about the alleged rape on campus, police said.

The victim of the attack in the Hughes parking lot, a female Cornell student, said a male attacker grabbed her around the waist from behind and aggressively pulled at her shirt.

The student screamed and used a bag she was carrying to hit the assailant, police said. Other students in the area intervened and the male subject then fled toward the Hughes Hall pathway, according to police.

In a joint statement released to the Cornell community, Vice President of Student and Academic Services Susan Murphy ’73 and Vice President for Human Resources Mary Opperman said the University is reaching out to the victims of Sunday’s attacks.

“Please be assured that the victims of these incidents are receiving assistance and support from university staff,” the statement said. “All of us at Cornell condemn, in the strongest terms, any action that threatens the safety of any member of our community.”

In the wake of the incidents, CUPD urged Cornellians to consider increased personal safety measures.

“Due to the increased level of criminal activity last night, we are strongly urging members of the Cornell community to take prudent and necessary safety precautions, including: locking your doors and windows at all times [and] using alternative methods of transportation, such as Blue Light escorts, Blue Light buses, taxis,” CUPD said in a press release.

CUPD also told students to travel in groups regardless of the hour and to call 911 “if you see anything suspicious.”

Anyone with information about the crimes is urged to contact IPD at 607-272-9973 or CUPD at 607-255-1111.

Original Author: Kerry Close