Friday, February 26, 2010

Reported sexual assault results in false alarm

The Lyndon State community woke up to disturbing news Tuesday morning after an alleged sexual assault was reported.

A further investigation by police concluded the student, whose identity has not been revealed, filed a false report, according to an e-mail from President Carol Moore to students and faculty. George Hacking, director of public safety, confirmed the report was false and said the state police will be filing charges against the student for filing a false report.

Jonathan Davis, associate dean of student affairs, sent out a campus warning to students and faculty Tuesday morning in regards to the reported sexual assault. The report claimed that an unidentified male had crawled through a first floor window in Stonehenge around 1:00 a.m. At the time of the reported assault, neither a description of the assaulter nor any other suspects were available. Jonathan Davis was not available for further comment at the time of publication.

Hacking stressed the need for students to understand the report filed by the student was false and said, "We are as safe today as we were before the report came in." Hacking acknowledged it would be unwise to not learn from the incident. "We recognize there are ways to get into the residence halls if you really want to," Hacking said, "we have some control over that but it's really the students responsibility to take control."

In order to prevent intruders from getting into the buildings, students need to report people who are propping open doors or leaving windows open, Hacking says. "We need the assistance of the community," he said.

Since the false sexual assault was reported, Public Safety has increased patrols in Stonehenge and specifically in the Crevecoeur area, Hacking said. "One of the more positive side effects of the incident," says Hacking, "is that the patrols are going into suites and finding the suite doors are now being locked."

In regards to handling reports of any kind, Hacking says you must always assume the report is real. When the call went out that an alleged sexual assault had taken place on campus, public safety officers, including two student officers, immediately responded to the area, where they contacted the RHD on duty. At the same time, the state police were notified and arrived on campus and began investigating the incident, Hacking said. Three uniformed officers, one with a canine to search for a possible suspect trail and four detectives were on campus, Hacking said.

"I came in as did Jonathan Davis as soon as we were notified," says Hacking.

Hacking did note the emergency texting system worked well but, "we're still working out some bugs with the email system."