ROCK HILL, S.C. – Winthrop University Police are investigating an alleged on-campus sexual assault.
Friday, the university’s police chief addressed the media saying the alleged assault happened on October 29, but that the victim first reported the assault Thursday.
“Victims respond to things differently, victims report differently,” said Police Chief Frank Zebedis.
According to the police report filed, the female student was looking for a friend’s keys in a courtyard between Owens Hall and Margaret Nance Hall around 9:30 at night, when a man approached her from behind. She told police she tried to run, but tripped over a light fixture and fell to the ground.
She says that’s when the man forced himself on top of her and forced her to perform a sex act on him before he fled.
“That late at night, unless there’s a meeting or a random student studying, there’s not going to be anyone around to hear, to see, it’s a pretty closed-off area,” says Winthrop senior, Emily Grace Gill.
The only description the victim was able to give police was that the alleged attacker was wearing denim jeans.
Police say they are uncertain as to whether or not he was a student or just someone who was on-campus, but that they’re hopeful they can find whoever did it.
“Hopefully with the video we have here on campus, around campus, we have a lot of video to look through to see what we might be able to find,” said chief Zebedis.
Chief Zebedis is also asking students who might have information to come forward.
On Friday, students were sent a push alert by campus police notifying them of the incident. Many of them shocked by the news.
“I got freaked out. I was like oh my gosh, I would have never expected something like that to happen on campus. I have a class that ends at 8:30 and I’m kind of scared to walk by myself now,” said freshman Madison Watson.
Police are advising students to remain vigilant and to walk with a friend when possible. They’re also advising that all students become familiar with the locations of emergency poles on campus.
Police Chief Zebedis says the best way to arm yourself, however, is to download the Winthrop University LIVE SAFE application, which allows students to summons a police officer in real time, no matter what time of day it is.
The University reports there were two forcible sex offenses in 2013, seven in 2014 and two in 2015.