Another woman was sexually assaulted on campus last night.
Just after midnight on Saturday, Oct. 19, a 17-year-old woman was assaulted while walking from Totem Park residence to Place Vanier residence along the 2500 block of West Mall, close to Totem Park. This is the third case of sexual assault on campus in the past month.
According to the RCMP, the woman was walking alone when a man emerged from a wooded area behind her and tried to drag her back into the woods.
The assailant ripped at her clothing and groped her under her skirt. The woman was able to fight him off and screamed for help, causing the man to flee on foot. She then made it back to her residence and immediately made a 911 call.
The suspect punched the woman in the face, giving her a black eye.
According to Sgt. Drew Grainger of the UBC RCMP, the suspect is described as Caucasian, in his late 20s to early 30s, approximately 6′ 2″ tall with a thin build. He had short cropped hair and was wearing blue jeans and a dark hoodie. This suspect was reported to possibly have an American accent.
“What is most striking is the method of the attack, it’s been a woman alone, she’s been approached from behind and tried to drag into an area while the attacker tries to get his hands under the woman’s skirt. What’s disturbing about this one is that the level of violence has increased, where clothing has been ripped and the girl was punched in the face… we’re very, very concerned about this,” Grainger said.
“Here at UBC RCMP this is our top priority, to try to resolve these attacks,” Grainger said, although the RCMP has no leads on the suspect so far.
According to a media release, the RCMP will partner with local law enforcement agencies to identify the suspect or suspects responsible for the recent sexual assaults.
“We’re activating a number of strategies, some of them are very sensitive and I can’t get into, on how we are going to try to identify and apprehend this person,” Grainger said.
Laura Harrison, a first year Arts student, heard about the assault last night.
“It’s just kind of creepy that like, we walk around here every night, like I run track here, I come back when it’s dark every single night alone,” Harrison said.
Harrison said she and her friends have been taking more precautions at night since the attacks began.
“Just like making sure to be walking back with someone like when I went out last night, our friends wouldn’t let people leave unless they were with someone, and I never even thought about that before, before all this happened,” Harrison said.
Grainger urged students to take extra precautions in light of the recent assaults.
“Students and faculty and staff who walk at those hours, they need to always be vigilant of their surroundings, and take every precaution available to them to keep themselves from becoming a victim, and ensure their own personal safety,” said Grainger.
“Use the buddy system, that’s probably the best defense… take a cab, if you can get a ride from a friend, take that ride.” He also recommended that students take advantage of Safewalk, or ask campus security to walk them home.
On Saturday, UBC posted a bulletin telling students not to walk alone at night.
Anyone with information that could be used to identify the suspect is asked to contact the University RCMP at 604-224-1322 or Crimestoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS.