A joint message from OUPD Chief Andrew Powers and Athens Police Chief Tom Pyle about sexual assault
Ohio University Police Chief Andrew Powers and City of Athens Police Chief Tom Pyle shared the following message with the University community containing important information regarding three sexual assaults that have been reported since classes began this semester, two of which were reported to OUPD and another that was reported to the Athens Police Department.
Dear Ohio University Community Members,
We are writing to share important information about three sexual assaults that have been reported since classes began this semester, two of which were reported to OUPD and another that was reported to the Athens Police Department. In addition to sharing information about these reports, we also hope to emphasize how you can join us in combating and preventing this type of crime.
The first incident was reported to have happened on campus on August 25 and was relayed to OUPD anonymously by a third party. Because the report was anonymous, we have no further details to share; however, OUPD issued a crime alert with the information we were given at the time, including the general location and manner of the attack.
This past weekend, two additional sexual assaults were reported to police. The first was reported to have occurred in Wray House on Saturday night/Sunday morning (September 1-2) and is being investigated by OUPD. Again, a crime alert was issued about the offense. Subsequently, Athens City Police is investigating an off-campus assault that was reported to have occurred on Sunday night (September 2). OUPD does not typically issue crime alerts for crimes occurring off campus; however, APD did issue a press release about this case.
The two most recent cases involve a similarly described suspect, and all three cases were reported to have started in the general vicinity of Mill Street. As a result, our detectives are working together to investigate whether the cases may be related, but we must stress it is too soon to make that determination.
WHAT WE ARE DOING
In addition to our detectives working together to share information and investigate these crimes, both of our departments are focusing extra patrol efforts in the areas where these crimes took place. We are also appealing to anyone who may have information related to any of these offenses to contact either OUPD (740-593-1911) or APD (740-592-3313) to share what you know. Anonymous tips may be made to Crime Solvers Anonymous at 740-594-3331.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
It is our sincere hope that you will join us in creating a culture of intolerance for sexual violence by emphasizing the importance of respecting boundaries and supporting those who assert their personal limits. Sexual contact without consent is a serious crime and survivors of crime are never at fault for their victimization. Alcohol is not an excuse for committing a crime.
When walking alone, consider walking with your phone in your hand, but stay alert to your surroundings. If you feel threatened or uncomfortable, by all means call 911. Consider planning ahead and utilizing the CATS Late Night free shuttle service between 5:30 p.m. – 3:00 a.m. M-F, and 10 p.m. – 3 a.m. on Saturday. Rides can be scheduled by contacting 740-593-4040 via text or phone and shuttles can be tracked in real time using the DoubleMap APP on your smart phone or via the web.
Finally, keep in mind ways you could safely intervene if you see someone in need, especially if someone is taking advantage of a person who cannot consent. In such cases we implore you to be direct when safe and able, create a distraction, or call someone else for help.
National statistics suggest that as many as one in four women will become victims of sexual assault while at college, and one in six men will become victims in their lifetime; we must all be a part of the effort to combat sexual violence and rape culture. Talk about these issues with your friends, join in campus conversations on this topic, and become part of organizations that promote efforts to end sexual violence.
We are encouraged to see an increase in women and men coming forward to report crimes that in the past may have gone unreported. Not only does this increase offender accountability and reduce the chances of others becoming victims, it also shines a light on those affected by sexual violence. Hopefully, that light will empower others to tell their stories. For those who are ready to take that step, we stand ready to support you.
For a list of confidential and non-confidential campus and community resources, click here.
For additional information and updates, follow OUPD on Twitter and Facebook and APD on Facebook.
Chief Andrew Powers
Ohio University Police Department
Chief Tom Pyle
City of Athens Police Department