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Women report assaults near AU campus

Monday - 10/1/2012, 11:05pm  ET

Andrew Mollenbeck, wtop.com

WASHINGTON - American University has sent an alert to the campus community following reports that four female students were groped near the campus.

The separate incidents, dating back to Sept. 24, each occurred along the 4200 block of Massachusetts Avenue N.W., between the Berkshire Apartments and the university's main campus.

The memorandum says the alleged attacker approached the students from behind, grabbing their backsides. During one of those incidents, he reportedly grabbed a student's chest. Each of the reported attacks occurred in the late evening or early morning hours.

American University's Department of Public safety did not receive reports of the fondling incidents until Monday.

But the memo has had an immediate effect.

A student who gave her name as Sol has decided to carry pepper spray. Her daily walk along Massachusetts Avenue passes the area of the reported attacks.

Sophia, a graduate student, has canceled her late-night meetings on campus, not wanting to return home after dark.

The victims describe their attacker as a white male between 20 and 30 years old. He's said to be between 5'7'' and 5'10''. He had been seen wearing a navy blue sweatshirt, dark blue hoodie and blue jeans, according to the memo.

The university memo reminded students to be aware of their surroundings, and to report any suspicious person or activity to campus safety officials at 202-885- 3636.

The university also offered students tips to protect themselves:

  • Walk in groups whenever possible
  • Avoid isolated and dark areas
  • Carry a cell phone and keep it accessible. Program AU Public Safety into the cell phone for emergencies
  • If approached, take note of the person's appearance, clothing and anything unusual that will help identify the suspect
  • Do not let anyone follow you into the building, or admit anyone as a guest unless they are your guest

The university also offers safety escorts to and from university owned property and operates blue light and emergency phones scattered throughout campus, the memo says.

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(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)