Police investigating more reports of sexual assault at Ohio University


Ohio University confirms law enforcement is now investigating five reports of sexual assault on or near campus.

Police said a woman told them on August 25, she was walking home from Mill Street when a man grabbed her, forced her inside a residence hall, and raped her. On Wednesday, police in Athens learned of the second attack on August 25.

Police said they were notified by a mandatory reporter that a woman was sexually assaulted by a man known to her on the east side of the city.

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Police said it doesn't appear the assault is related to two attacks reported last weekend.

Ohio University Police said at about 1 a.m. on September 2, a woman told police she was walking home from Mill Street with a group of acquaintances when she was forced into a vehicle, driven to Wray House Residence Hall, and sexually assaulted in her dorm room.

Athens police are investigating another report of a sexual assault later that same day that occurred off campus. Police said both women in the September 2 assaults provided a similar description of their attacker, but police said it's too early in the investigation to say with certainty that the assaults are connected.

Ohio University police received the most recent report of sexual assault on Wednesday when a student said she was forced by a man known to her to engage in a sexual act without giving consent.

Police haven't made any arrests.

On the Ohio University Campus, the Survivor Advocacy Program provides confidential support to student survivors of sexual assault, dating violence, and stalking.

"We want them to know there's a place for them to be heard, and we're going to believe them," said program director Kimberly Castor.

Several of the sexual assault reports under investigation were either anonymously, by a third party, or by a mandated reporter, like a hospital. Castor said anytime a student survives a sexual assault, they are given a choice.

"The last thing we want to have happen is to have them end up in some legal or institutional process that they didn't realize they would go through," said Castor.

The Survivor Advocacy Program is licensed to provide confidential and privileged support, meaning it's not mandated to report to police or to share records with law enforcement or the courts.

"Which is really important when we talk about giving survivors control back because we want it to be on their terms."

Castor praised Ohio University Police for taking what she calls a 'survivor-centric' approach.

"They really do their best to give the control to the student survivor, so even if they are put on notice about a report, they do their best to give the power and control back over their situation," said Castor.

She emphasized the program is available to support students, even if they're struggling to cope with the interpersonal violence that occurred years earlier.

The Survivor Advocacy Program offers a 24-hour hotline. That number is 740-957-SAFE (7233) To learn more about the program, click here. https://www.ohio.edu/survivor/