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Sexual Assaults Prompts Message from OUPD Chief

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Ohio University police officers are stepping up patrols in response to a number of sexual harassment reports made in recent weeks.

Last week, a female Ohio University student reported a sexual imposition. She alleged that between 2-3 p.m. on Jan. 13, an unknown male approached her, touched her buttocks and then ran away.

Police have released a video that shows a person walking by Adams Hall and approaching the female. The time stamp begins at 3:08 p.m. and shows the woman several yards ahead of the perpetrator. The male begins to speed up and approaches the woman. At that point, the tape cuts and the next frame shows the man running away in the opposite direction.

Another report last week indicates that a sexual imposition occurred a couple of hours earlier that same day. A female student reported that she was approached by three males while walking east on East Union Street in Athens at around 12:55 p.m. The woman alleged she was grabbed by the arm by one of the males who then touched her breast and buttocks. She claims the males then followed her to her room on East Green but from there she was able to get inside and shut the door on the men.

Ohio University Police Department Chief Andrew Powers has sent a message to students, faculty and staff emphasizing the seriousness of the offenses and indicating that extra vigilance is being taken by police.

In the message, Powers notes that two additional reports of suspicious males engaging in harassing behavior were received this past weekend.

“Touching people against their will — especially in a sexual area — is not a joke, it’s a crime,” Powers wrote. “Depending on the circumstances, it could be a felony and result in a lengthy prison sentence. We all have the right to control what happens to our bodies and none of us should have to tolerate being molested while walking on campus.”

Powers points out the sexual misconduct policy at Ohio University which states that discipline can include expulsion for students.

“In the wake of last week’s assaults, our patrol officers are enhancing their emphasis on foot patrol and increasing their visibility and accessibility to our community,” Powers stated.

“Preventing sexual assault is everyone’s responsibility,” he added. “We work hard to arrest those who commit crimes but we can’t be everywhere. We need your help to be effective.”

Powers asked that the video of the Adams Hall incident be reviewed and that anyone who may be able to identify the suspect from the clothing, gait or mannerisms, contact 740-593-1911.

He also advised on how students can help deter this behavior.

“You can also help by creating a culture of intolerance for sexual assault,” Powers wrote. “Don’t joke about these crimes or trivialize them, and challenge those who do. Emphasize the importance of respecting personal boundaries and support those who assert their personal limits. Remember the role that alcohol can play in sexual assault and look after one another if you and your friends have been drinking. Also, keep in mind that alcohol is not an excuse for committing a crime.”