U of M on alert after alleged attack

7:05 PM, Apr 28, 2008   |    comments
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Authorities have posted signs around Pioneer Hall at the U of M asking students not to prop open doors leading into the dorm. The signs are posted at multiple exits around the building after a student says she was sexually assaulted in a dorm early Sunday morning. Beyond that, the U plans to add more dorm security, and more police patrols. Police are searching for two suspects and are working on a sketch as of Monday. The victim told police it happened in a third-floor men's bathroom at Pioneer Hall. "To have this happen to someone I know, I didn't think that would ever happen," said Neil Starks, a friend of the victim. Starks said a group of friends, including the victim, were in his dorm room Saturday night. Around midnight, the victim went to the bathroom and she was gone for about 30 minutes. But when she returned, Starks said she was crying. They immediately called police and she told investigators what happened. "She was returning to be with friends and was grabbed by two males, pulled into a men's bathroom and sexually assaulted," says U of M Police Chief Greg Hestness. The victim told police one suspect held her down, while the other raped her. Students who live in Pioneer Hall learned about the assault Sunday morning after the university issued a crime alert and sent out a couple of e-mails. Video cameras keep an eye on the dorm's main entrances, but police looked through four hours of video and didn't see the suspects. So Hestness fears they snuck in through one of many unmonitored doors. He says a door could have been propped open or held open by another student. On Monday, University Police said they intend to look at more security-camera video. They also hope, with the help of the victim, to make suspect sketches. The victim tells police the suspects are two black males. One was between 20 and 24 years old and around 6 feet tall. The other is 18 to 22 years old, between 5'7" and 5'10" tall. Both were described as having muscular builds and short dark hair. Experts say this incident can leave campus-wide scars. Roberta Gibbons, Associate Director of the U's Aurora Center -- which offers counseling --- said "When something this public happens, and it's this egregious of an offense, it can't help but have an impact on how people are dealing with it." Anyone with information on the suspects is asked to call University of Minnesota police.

(Copyright 2008 by KARE11. All Rights Reserved.)

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