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Sexual assault at Calhoun; student body not notified

By Holly Hollman
and Bayne Hughes

hhollman@decaturdaily.com 340-2445

Campus police are looking for a man who sexually assaulted a Calhoun Community College student, but the college has not warned the student body.

The victim said she was late for class Wednesday and walking alone, something she had never been afraid to do at Calhoun. It was 5 p.m. and not too dark. She heard no one following her.

A stranger disrupted her sense of safety when he grabbed her hair, slammed her against a brick wall at Harris Hall and sexually assaulted her.

Since that attack, other female students have walked on campus unaware because the college did not inform students. The attacker still is on the loose, and the victim said she saw him a second time on campus on Thursday.

Calhoun spokeswoman Janet Martin said Friday the school did not notify the student body because it wasn't until Friday that campus police received enough information from the victim to be able to identify a suspect.

"Rather than upset or cause a mass hysteria, we were trying to get enough information before it was released," Martin said. "The student has not been very cooperative."

The victim said she was able to provide campus police a more detailed description of the attacker after seeing him Thursday. The victim said campus police are trying to determine if the man is a student and are preparing a lineup for her to view based on the description.

According to a police report and the victim, this is what happened Wednesday and Thursday:

As the victim walked to class Wednesday, a man grabbed her and touched her inappropriately. He pushed her against the wall, slamming the back of head into the wall. Someone yelled at the attacker, and he ran.

As the victim ran into the building, she heard, but didn't see, a vehicle start up.

The report the victim filed Wednesday states that the attacker was a black male in a red shirt and weighing about 200 pounds.

The victim said police told her it's possible the attacker planned the assault because it occurred while class was in session.

"Since I was late, no one was going to class or leaving class," she said. "He saw me and saw an opportunity."

The victim said police also told her the person who yelled could have been another student who hasn't come forward, or it could have been an accomplice.

"He could have been watching to see if anyone was coming and yelled to warn my attacker," she said.

The victim said she was stunned when she saw the attacker on campus again. That was Thursday, and he was walking from the library. The victim said she reported that to campus police.

"He ran when he saw me and got into a truck," she said. "I saw the truck and was able to give police a description."

The victim described the attacker as a black male, about 6 feet, 2 inches tall and weighing about 200 pounds. He has a scar under his left eye and was driving a black Dodge Ram.

Martin said the college has security guards and police academy-trained police officers, but only one officer and one security guard were working the night of the attack. The campus has more than 9,000 students and 28 buildings on 110 acres.

"Usually there are three working at a time," Martin said, "but one of the security guards called in sick."

Martin referred to the attack as a "stranger crime" and said the last time that anything occurred that "even closely resembles this incident" was in the early 1990s. During that incident, someone hit a student over the head near the Fine Arts Building, she said.

For the victim's safety, campus police have offered the victim an escort, Martin said.

The victim did not go to the security shack as suggested Thursday when she saw the attacker a second time, Martin said.

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