Two weeks ago, students received an email at 11:30 p.m. from campus security that stated that a male student awoke early that morning “to witness a male touch his genitals” and that he believed the man was video recording the incident. Some students thought the email was a hoax, and made light of the incident on social networks such as Facebook.
While he denounced mocking sexual assault, Denison’s head of security, Garrett Moore, said he understood why some students thought the email was fake. “It came out late at night because we were working on it for hours after the incident occurred,” he said.
Moore said that security alerts normally come out earlier in the day, but he added that waiting until the next day would have been “negligent under federal law.”
The incident occurred between 3 and 4 a.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 23. Another East Quad resident says a man with a flashlight entered his room early in the morning on Sunday, Sept. 21. This time, the resident awoke and chased the suspect out of his room. The suspect was described in the email as “a black male, slim build, approximately six feet tall and college-aged.” Because both situations involved a dark room, neither victim was able to give a more detailed description.
Some students thought the racial description caused an unnecessary issue on a campus where there are few African-Americans and they thought racial profiling could occur.
“I think it’s problematic because it puts the speculation on black people on campus when the person could have been a different race,” says Kiara Sims, a senior from Chicago, Ill. “They should have just said dark-skinned.”
“I understand the frustration people have when they see the description of the race of a suspect,” says Moore. “Being a black man myself, I know what racial profiling is and we have to be concerned about it.” In the future, Moore thinks it would be a good idea to use the complexion of suspect rather than their race.
Regarding the investigation, Denison security has teamed up with the Granville Police Department. Moore says that they “have no idea if the person was a student, a community member or a visitor.” He says that they have interviewed the people who reported the incidents and looked at information from the card readers to see who entered the dormitories around the time the incidents occurred.
“We have exhausted our investigative efforts,” said Moore. He believes the end result will be a cold case unless someone steps forward with more information.
Jack Olmstead, a sophomore from Charlotte, N.C. appeared on Columbus’ 10TV news to talk about the incident last Wednesday. He says that after he got the email, he realized a man “matching the same kind of credentials” had entered his room a few days earlier with a flashlight. Olmstead sits on the Security Council, and said he wanted to go on the news to talk about what happened to him “to put pressure on the administration to say that something did go wrong” and “to pressure the [suspect] to stop doing it.”
Still, the same problem of identification arises. Olmstead said if the man was in a line up, “I probably couldn’t identify him.”
If you have any more information on these incidents, you can submit anonymous tips at http://denison.edu/forms/anonymous-tips.