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Over the past school year, the campus of the George Washington University has experienced several public sexual assaults. Back in September, a University of Maryland student entered a G.W. dorm and attempted to sexually assault several sleeping women. Last month, a man on a mountain bike rode around campus exposing himself to female students. Today, the university reports that a woman was “forcibly fondled” in the G.W. Gelman Library on the evening of Sunday, Feb. 14.
According to a George Washington University crime alert sent out today:
On the evening of Tuesday, Feb. 16, 2010, GWPD received a report of a forcible fondling that occurred in Gelman Library on Sunday, Feb. 14, 2010, at approximately 11:30pm. The victim reported that she was assisting the suspect when he unexpectedly put his hands down her pants and up her shirt. The victim pulled away and fled the area and the suspect left the library.
SUBJECT DESCRIPTION: Black male, 6′ 3″- 6′ 7″, 265 lbs., 35 to 45 years old, wearing a white sweater.
And those are just the sexual assaults that make the crime alerts and campus papers. According to the G.W. University Police Department crime log, which keeps a record of all illegal activity reported to campus police, the “forcible fondling” was the second sex abuse case reported to police this month (the other occurred off-campus). In January, the crime log recorded three incidents of indecent exposure (all likely related to the mountain biker), and one case of on-campus stalking. In December, another indecent exposure suspect was barred from campus. In November, a peeping tom case was closed without identifying a suspect; a sex abuse case in Mitchell Hall was referred to MPD. In October, a case of voyeurism was referred to Student Judicial Services. In September, the log recorded two cases of on-campus sex abuse. In August, it recorded two cases of off-campus sex abuse. That doesn’t count sex-related crimes that are coded as harassment, assault, or “lewd acts”—-or crimes that are never reported to campus police at all. We’ve still got three months left before the school year’s over.
When it comes to college sexual assault, I have always been quick to point out that the media has a tendency to sensationalize sexual assaults committed by strangers while ignoring the underreported problem of campus acquaintance rape. But it’s worth noting that even the rarer stranger assault cases are a fairly regular fixture on a college campus.