Assault incident occurs on Green
An incident of sexual assault and another of indecent exposure and lewdness were reported to Hanover Police last week. According to Police Chief Nicholas Giaccone, the incidents appear unrelated.
The first report alleged that a male suspect approached a 16-year-old female participant of the Junior Debate Workshop at Dartmouth as she jogged on the Green at 10:30 p.m. on July 3. The victim reported that the suspect grabbed and groped her beneath her shirt before she screamed and fled the area. At approximately 10:45 p.m. on July 4, a female Dartmouth sophomore reported that she was followed by a man in a silver van who masturbated as he drove past her repeatedly.
"July 4, 2007, while I was walking past the Bank of America parking lot on Maple St., a man in what appeared to be a silver van drove past me, made eye contact, had his shirt completely unbuttoned, the overhead light in his car on and his hand making [a] constant up-down motion in his lap, right where his penis would be," the victim wrote in her report to Hanover Police. "This led me to believe he was masturbating, or miming masturbation, and wanted me to see him and see him watching me while doing this."
The victim called Safety and Security after the van passed her twice, and, while on the phone with Safety and Security, she said the van passed her three more times.
The victim recorded the perpetrator's Vermont-registered license plate before contacting Safety and Security.
Upon receiving each of the two reports, Safety and Security contacted the Hanover Police.
The first perpetrator is described in the police report as a white, college-aged male, over six feet tall and wearing a sweatshirt. The perpetrator of the second incident is described as a white male with a mustache, 30- to 50-years old. The differences in the victims' descriptions of the perpetrators suggest that the incidents are not linked, according to Harry Kinne, director of Safety and Security.
Hanover Police have identified a suspect for the incident of indecent exposure and lewdness, but have no leads on the assault perpetrator. Both incidents are currently under investigation.
"[There was] a significant delay in the report for us," Giaccone said, "so we're sort of behind the eight-ball there, other than a suspect being a white male."
According to Kinne, the last time any similar incident occurred in the area was approximately one year ago when a man who was not associated with the College bothered female Dartmouth students on Main Street. Kinne said the time proximity of the two most recent incidents was unusual.
"I don't know if I would refer to this as a trend," Kinne said. "Especially because [it's] summertime, people are outside more. There are a lot of people in and around the campus who aren't necessarily affiliated with Dartmouth, so we want people to keep their guard up and certainly contact us if they have any feeling of insecurity."
Safety and Security informed students about last Tuesday's assault through fliers posted throughout campus. Additionally, an e-mail describing both incidents, originally sent from the second victim, circulated within sorority houses and among female students.
The victim said she has felt "normal" since the incident, but has been more cautious.
"I'm not walking outside alone after dark," she said. "This past weekend my flatmates were both out of town, so I slept at a friend's room Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights. I felt pretty vulnerable on Thursday, and took the day off from work on Friday...I've also been looking at license plates like crazy."
Since learning of both incidents, female students have increased precautions.
"I am really freaked out to walk home at night by myself, but I always end up walking home by myself because I don't want to ask S&S for a ride because I've been drinking underage," said a female student who wished to remain anonymous.
Kinne said that Safety and Security does not assume that students are drinking if they ask to be escorted home at night.
"When someone gets into the vehicle and they ask for a ride, we wouldn't necessarily realize if they've been drinking or haven't been drinking," he said. "We do enforce alcohol rules and regulations, but our bottom line and our biggest concern is the safety of students."
Kinne encouraged students to take advantage of the blue light system and escort service offered by Safety and Security, which will accompany a student to both on and off-campus housing.
In response to concerns raised by their membership, Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority plans to implement their own service, for which an officer will e-mail a list of available drivers to their membership on certain nights.
"This is definitely a concern for us. Since so many of us are either living down on West Wheelock St. or at the house it is certainly worth taking some precautions," Amanda Young '09, Kappa's summer president, said. "As a result, we [will be] blitzing out lists of girls who are available to come and give other girls rides back home from campus if it is late at night and they are alone."