Breaking News
More () »

Ohio University students concerned following 2 reports of sexual assault

The university issued safety alerts this week about sexual assaults that happened Sunday morning.

ATHENS, Ohio — Before Kevie Keister set foot on the campus of Ohio University, she says her mom warned her about what to expect.

“I know a lot of people say we have a reputation as a party school,” she says.

Keister says she never leaves home without her pink bottle of pepper spray, and that's not all.

“If I’m leaving a bar and I’m not feeling the greatest, I'll call a CATCAB, a transportation (service) that we have, and I’m usually on the phone with a family member just to make sure I’m at my dorm safe,” she says.

Safety took on a new level of concern on campus after two students told police they were forced to have sex in their dorms without their consent by two men they met in the uptown area. 

The first crime happened at Mackinnon Hall on Oct. 16 between 2 a.m. and 3 a.m. The second crime happened on Oct. 17 at James Hall between 1 a.m. and 3 a.m.

Police say the suspects are men the two women asked to help them home.

“Whoever did it preyed on the trust that those people,” says Bean Backauskas, a sophomore at Oho University.

Police have a vague description of the suspects and no arrests have been made.

You can read the campus alerts here.

Now students say they are arming themselves to keep safe.

“I carry a knife with me. I know a lot of people have pepper spray there's this thing called birdie that sets off like a bright flash and a loud noise a lot of people have that too,” says Backauskas.

The University says it's increased lighting on campus and added security cameras to help make it safer for kids to walk at night.

With the help of students, it created a mobile app called BOBCAT SAFE that allows students to walk virtually with a friend by sharing their location. The app also allows them to talk instantly with a member of the campus police department with a single click of a button.

There's also a free late-night shuttle that delivers students to their residence hall.

“We are really trying to make sure that everyone has a baseline of expectations for how to be a good bystander, what sexual assault is and what consent is,” says Carly Leatherwood, who is a spokesperson with the university.

Social workers say sexual assaults on campus are often higher this time of year.

Kimberly Rouse is the director of Survivor Advocacy Group at Ohio University. She says the "red zone" for sexual assaults is the first six to eight weeks of the fall semester. 

“If you think about what is happening on college campuses during that time, we have a lot of new students who are living on their own for the first time. We have students who are experiencing drugs or alcohol for the first time at levels they haven't reached before,” Rouse says. 

As for Keister, she says many students come to campus believing crimes don't happen here.

“Yeah, I think kids think 'it's not going to happen to me' and it very well can. There's evil lurking in all corners of the world,” she said.

Local News: Recent Coverage