News and Analysis

Saturday, Sept. 10, 2011 3:39 p.m.

Female student reports attempted sexual assault at City Hall

The University Police Department identified this individual as the suspect after reviewing security camera images with the female student who reported an alleged sexual assault at City Hall. Photo courtesy of UPD.

Updated Sept. 10, 7:37 p.m.

A man followed a female student into City Hall’s stairwell and allegedly attempted to sexually assault her at about 1:10 p.m. Saturday.

The suspect, a black male with light brown hair in his mid-20s, began talking to the female student after he trailed into a stairwell behind her, according to a Safety and Security Alert. He tried to forcefully sexually assault her after reaching the second floor.

“The female student fought him off and screamed causing him to flee the area,” the alert said. The suspect was wearing a navy blue polo and jeans.

According to the alert, the student reported to the University Police Department that she did not know the suspect. UPD Chief Kevin Hay said UPD and the Metropolitan Police Department are “actively pursuing leads of the suspect.”  Security cameras captured images of the suspect that officers have reviewed.

Hay said extra UPD officers are patrolling campus this weekend, adding an officer is stationed in City Hall’s lobby, while MPD has also ramped up its on-campus presence.

“Based on closed-circuit television images, we have determined that the suspect entered City Hall by following, or piggy-backing, a resident as they entered the building,” Hay said. “We encourage students to remain vigilant about their surroundings and do not let anyone they do not know follow them into the buildings.”

He added that the University Counseling Center is available as a resource for any individual affected by the situation.

  • Lisa Smilan

    “We encourage students to remain vigilant about their surroundings and do not let anyone they do not know follow them into the buildings.” –UPD Chief Kevin Hay

    I am a GW alumna and parent of a current GW undergrad. As a parent I often worry about the lack of security in GW’s dorms. I have personally witnessed on numerous occasions people entering GW dormitories without swiping an ID. I find Chief Hay’s statement, above, to be a complete abdication of responsibility for students’ security in the dorms; instead, the Chief is unfairly shifting the burden onto students to protect themselves. While it is extremely important for students to be aware of their surroundings, it is unrealistic to suggest that a five-foot-tall, 110 lb. woman, for example, would have the physical strength to prevent a grown man from following her into a building. And if she did “allow” the man to follow her into the building, would it be her fault if she were then assaulted?

    It’s interesting that Potomac House, which houses GW’s early-decision-freshman, has a uniformed security officer on duty 24-7. Why is this, when other dorms have no security whatsoever, at any time of day or night? Back in the 1980s, one of GW’s work-study jobs was sitting at the front desk of a dorm and making visitors sign in. While it would be great to have a uniformed security officer at all dorms at all times, I understand that this might be cost prohibitive. But why not have students, either in the work-study program or student volunteers, sitting at the front desks in all dorms, requiring residents to show their IDs and visitors to sign in? A person sitting at the front desk would surely be an effective deterrent to individuals who might otherwise illegally enter a dorm building. The university knows this. Crawford Hall, for example, has someone manning the front desk between the hours of 7 p.m. and 4 a.m. because the university knows that this is a good way to keep students safe (yet I still don’t understand why there is no longer concern for Crawford residents’ safety at times like 6:45 p.m. or 5:00 a.m.). It makes no sense that this security measure is provided for only some of GW’s students, and then sometimes only at certain times of the night. Students in many dorms are being asked to engage in direct confrontation with strangers slipping into the building behind them. It isn’t fair, and it isn’t smart; especially when the university knows of a simple solution to this problem.

    I urge The Hatchet to conduct an investigation into just how easy it is for nonresidents to enter the various dorms on campus. GW’s negligence in this matter is inexcusable. GW needs to be called out on its lax security before someone’s life is shattered, or worse.

%d bloggers like this: