Protecting against Sexual Assault
Three attacks on Charles River Campus students in one weekend
Barely a month into the fall semester, police are already investigating three alleged sexual assaults on BU students on or near the Charles River Campus. Meanwhile, they are also hunting a suspected serial attacker believed to be responsible for four assaults on the Boston Esplanade from 2007 to 2009.
Against that backdrop, Capt. Robert Molloy of the BU Police Department joined Boston, State, and Transit Police colleagues September 21 at a press conference on the Esplanade to alert student joggers and pedestrians about the incidents there. The officials offered safety tips to minimize vulnerability to attack.
BUPD Chief Thomas Robbins declined to give details of two alleged back-to-back assaults September 17 and 18, saying he didn’t want to compromise the investigations. In the first, a student reported that she was sexually assaulted on campus at about 5 a.m., said Robbins. The next day, another student charged that a nonstudent acquaintance sexually assaulted her around midnight after they’d left an apartment near the intersection of Harvard and Commonwealth Avenues. In that incident, the woman said she had been drinking, according to Robbins.
In a third reported assault on a BU student the same weekend, a woman told police that she was walking near 470 Harvard Ave. on September 17 at 8 a.m. when a man came from behind and forcefully grabbed her buttocks. The woman didn’t get a good look at the man as he ran away, Robbins said; she described him as of indeterminate race, about six feet tall, with a medium build, and wearing black pants and a gray hoodie.
While the Esplanade suspect is believed to have committed his assaults several years ago, Molloy said a BU student alleged that she was sexually assaulted on August 14 on the Esplanade, just east of the Massachusetts Avenue Bridge. The student, an upperclassman living off campus, “had been walking home from a nightclub” at about 1:30 a.m., he said. She reported the alleged assault to a passerby, who tipped off the BUPD. The woman declined medical treatment. Molloy said he has no further information on the case, which was turned over to the State Police, whose spokesman, David Procopio, said the attack appeared unrelated to the string of earlier Esplanade assaults.
Nevertheless, the BU student’s case is “an active investigation,” he said. “We are completely certain that this was sexual assault. This was a serious crime.” Police don’t have a suspect, according to Procopio.
The BUPD said that the low crime rate on campus has the unfortunate drawback of leading people to assume that nothing ever happens.
Following are among the police safety tips offered at the Esplanade press conference and by the BUPD generally, especially at night:
- Remove headphones while walking or jogging. The distraction makes you vulnerable to attack.
- Walk with a friend at night, and avoid areas that are not well lit.
- Always carry a cell phone. But when you’re out walking or jogging, use it only for emergencies. Otherwise, it can be a distraction. (See headphones, above.)
- Let someone know when you expect to arrive home.
- And the perennial tip, from Robbins: If you drink, “make sure no one spikes your drink. Don’t binge-drink. Don’t overindulge.”
Crime, including assaults, ticks up on campuses every fall, with the influx of students with expensive belongings and newcomers learning the campus and often distracted on cell phones or headphones.46 Comments