An unknown male sexually assaulted a female Miami student on Thursday, Feb. 7. The incident occurred in an outdoor location near North Quad between 11:18 and 11:43 p.m.
The student reported the assault on Wednesday, Feb. 13, and a Miami University Police report detailed the offense as rape.
Miami Police Chief John McCandless said this incident differed from most reported sexual assaults around campus in two respects: it occurred outdoors and the assailant was unknown to the victim.
“The vast majority of our sexual assaults occur at the victim or accused’s [residence],” McCandless said. “Very few sexual assaults occur outside or in general areas. Usually, it’s some location that the victim got to.”
The suspect is described in the report as a college-aged white male with a muscular build standing an estimated 6 feet tall.
Britt Graves, a resident assistant at Hepburn Hall in North Quad, discussed her fears about an unknown sex offender being in the area.
“It really made me nervous because I had actually been outside the dorm just an hour or forty minutes before it actually happened,” Graves said. “I was … a little bit concerned about who it was, particularly if it was a resident within my quad.”
Graves, responsible for freshman females in Hepburn Hall, has been warning them to be smart and cognizant while on campus.
“Show that you’re aware of your surroundings; look out for one another. If you’re going out alone, try and get someone to go with you. Always maintain that image that you are alert of everything around you. You are not oblivious to what’s going on.”
News of the assault was relayed by a bulletin on the Miami website. This is the first sexual assault safety bulletin that was released this semester.
Last semester, only one assault reported that the subject was unknown to the victim and none transpired outdoors. One occurred in a North Quad residence hall.
Per Miami’s Annual Security and Fire Safety Report, 29 sex offenses transpired on or around campus from Jan. 1 to Dec. 31, 2017. In 2018, that number rose to 36. Already in 2019, eight sex offenses have been reported — four of which occurred in the past month.
McCandless has connected the rise in reported incidents as a sign of increased confidence in sexual assault resources and police assistance.
“It’s quite underreported,” McCandless said. “So, when we see numbers spike up, we like to think it’s people having more faith to come forward and receive help, receive the kind of investigation they need.”
Police are still investigating the Feb. 7 assault. Those with relevant and pertinent information to solving the case can contact the MUPD at 513-529-2222.