Student sexually assaulted off campus

A female student at the College has told Security that she was sexually assaulted early Saturday morning. The alleged assault occurred at an off-campus residence. During the course of the investigation into the assault, another student approached Security and reported that she had been sexually assaulted during the fall.

The student traveled to North Adams Regional Hospital (NARH) on Saturday night to have a rape kit, which is a collection of physical evidence, prepared by a licensed physician. The Williamstown Police Department (WPD) is currently in possession of the kit, though there is little it can do until the student agrees to talk with the Department.

“We were told a rape occurred, it involved a student from Williams and the person who had been in contact with the victim indicated [the victim] did not want to talk with the police,” said Arthur Parker, chief of the WPD.

The investigation into the most recent assault is ongoing, said Jean Thorndike, director of Campus Safety; thus neither she nor Dave Boyer, associate director of security, were able to provide many details about the case. According to Thorndike and Ruth Harrison, director of Health Services, the assault occurred early on Saturday morning. A female student reported the assault to Security on Saturday around 6 p.m., although it is unclear whether the student who called was the survivor or an intermediary who had been asked to call on behalf of the survivor.

Harrison, the on-call member of the Sexual Assault Response Team (SART), was contacted at 11:00 p.m. that the student was at NARH having a rape kit prepared. By 5:15 a.m. on Sunday, the student had returned to campus with Harrison. The WPD received a call from NARH at 5:55 a.m. on Sunday and a call from Boyer at 6:20 a.m. alerting the police that a rape had occurred involving a Williams student.

SART is a team comprised of various non-student individuals at the College, including members of Security, Housing, the Dean’s Office, Health Services and the faculty. A SART member is always on call to provide comfort and support for students who have been victim of a sexual assault.

According to an e-mail sent to Williams students, faculty and staff by Nancy Roseman, dean of the College, “the suspects in both cases are Williams students.” Although the WPD cannot do much until the rape survivor formally requests an investigation, Thorndike said that if the College substantiates the survivors’ claims, the assailants will face serious disciplinary action. Thorndike would not speculate on the possibilities facing the suspects, but Boyer indicated that in the past when the College has found a student guilty of sexual assault, expulsion from College has been the administration’s response.

Boyer would not specifically say that alcohol or drugs were involved in the Saturday assault, but he did say that, “probably every sex assault I’ve ever heard of has involved alcohol or drugs of some sort.”

In addition, Boyer said that the findings of the investigation so far have not shown that more than one male was involved in the attack, although Security has not ruled out the possibility. Security has also found no relation between the Saturday and fall assaults.

Thorndike said that no other Saturday assaults have been reported to Security. She also said that there is no timetable for the investigation, as much of the work depends on Security conducting interviews with people who were either involved in or are knowledgeable about the rape.

According to Parker, this is the third case of sexual assault involving a female Williams student this year. In all three cases, the WPD “has not had a face-to-face [meeting] with any of the victims. . . I find that very unusual,” Parker said.

“[I am] saddened, disappointed and concerned for those involved,” Roseman said. “My only solace is that we have an excellent team of professionals who respond and provide support to survivors of sexual assaults. Williams has had sexual assaults in the past; it is something that happens on every college campus in America and that is a very sad testament to the prevalence of sexual assault in society,” she said.

Statistics gathered from Security and other administrative offices indicate that 10, four and two cases of “forcible sex offenses” have been reported in 1998, 1999, and 2000, respectively. However, these statistics do not include calls made to Williams’ student-run Rape and Sexual Assault Network, which does not keep a formal log of incidents. Both Boyer and Thorndike also said that, judging from the fluctuations in data, it is likely there are more cases of assault than are commonly reported to the College.

No link to Stetson Rd. incident

Boyer said that there is no indication that the Saturday assault was in any way linked to another incident on Saturday that occurred on Stetson Road involving two Williams students who damaged a car and acted inappropriately in front of three females. According to a WPD press release, the two Williams students approached the parked car in which the three women were sitting and began climbing on the car. “After climbing off of the hood [of the car], it is alleged that [the student] removed his pants and underwear and exposed himself in view of the passenger window,” the WPD release stated. One student has been charged with “malicious destruction of property over $250” and “being a disorderly person.” The other student was charged with one count of “open and gross lewdness” and “being a disorderly person.”

Students who wish to confidentially discuss an incident of sexual assault may contact the Rape and Sexual Assault Network 24 hours a day, seven days a week at ext. 4100.

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