An unknown male sexually assaulted a UC Irvine student in a freshman dorm parking lot at approximately 11 p.m. last Sunday, May 18.
According to the UCI Police Department’s crime alert, the suspect “grabbed the victim’s chest while passing her on the stairs” in Parking Lot 5 of Mesa Court. The victim did not know the suspect.
The suspect was described as a heavyset 6-foot-2 white male with brown hair in his late 30s or early 40s. He was reportedly wearing a white or beige short, button-down shirt and blue or gray pants.
Due to the age of the suspect, UCIPD does not think that the male was a student attending UCI. Although the student’s friend was walking with her up the stairs at the time of the incident, there are no other witnesses and limited information available for the police department to work with. As a result, Chief of Police Paul Henisey said that the case would be difficult to solve.
“We are looking for people who fit the description. … All we have is a description [and] it’s not detailed enough. Unless there is some evidence that is pointing to a suspect, we may not be able to even solve the case,” Henisey said.
Furthermore, Henisey noted that, in most sexual-assault cases, the victim’s information is kept confidential.
Mandy Mount, director of Campus Assault Resources Education, confirmed Henisey’s statement, noting that confidentiality is kept to ensure the safety of anyone seeking CARE’s services.
“This is a confidential office so whether we were aware of it or not, I wouldn’t be able to tell you that,” Mount said.
Still, Mount noted that though no identity could be released, the effects of the event may go beyond the victim and permeate into the campus community.
“Other people beside the victim can be traumatized as well. When many people hear through the ZotAlert that somebody had been assaulted or battered on the campus it can often increase feeling of anxiety [for them],” Mount said.
A ZotAlert regarding this specific event was sent via cellphone text messaging around 12:30 a.m. Sunday morning, and a safety alert e-mail was sent the following afternoon on Monday, May 18 at 1:30 p.m.
Henisey went on to add that the event “is a good reminder for people to be aware of their surroundings.”
According to Mount, such actions are damaging to an individual’s sense of his or her environment; there is some variability, however, in how an individual will react to sexual battery, ranging from person to person.
“[Some individuals] may be minimally shaken up by the event. Others may experience psychological stress for a very long period of time, and that depends on the extent of the violence experienced,” Mount said.
The Chief also emphasized that students should “call 9-1-1 immediately because that could help us detain or arrest someone. The sooner we get the information, the higher the likelihood to determine who the person was.”
Likewise, Mount noted that UCI has plenty of resources to help individuals cope with such situations. Among those resources Mount noted that CARE provides counseling services, which includes designated drop-in hours so students can avoid having to make an appointment.
This service allows students to speak with a counselor in a one-on-one atmosphere with complete confidence. Mount also suggests relaxation classes that are held at the Anteater Recreation Center for those who have had traumatic experiences. Lastly, Mount noted that CARE’s Web site (www.care.uci.edu) may be a good starting point to learn more about coping with sexual assault and battery.
If anyone has further information regarding the incident, please call the UCIPD Dispatch Center at (949) 824-5223.
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