UNH police investigate campus sexual assault amid campus protests


DURHAM – Police at the University of New Hampshire confirmed on Monday that they are actively investigating an alleged sexual assault that allegedly took place inside a dormitory.

UNH Police Chief Paul Dean said on Friday (October 15) that a student reported being sexually assaulted inside Stoke Hall, the school’s most populous dormitory.

This unidentified victim is a college student who lives in Stoke Hall.

“We are working with the survivor on the case and we are protecting the privacy of the survivor and working with her on her schedule as she works with resources from SHARPP (UNH Sexual Harassment and Rape Prevention Program) and other resources, ”Dean said.

Demonstrations, petition, social media posts and reaction from the president of the UNH

In the past few days, an online petition to the school has received more than 5,400 virtual signatures. In it, a student is accused of “SEVERAL acts of rape and assault against women”. Because this person has not been charged with a crime or cited as being investigated by school or university police, Seacoastonline will not publish their name.

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This same student was also named in a public Instagram post from a non-UNH-affiliated Instagram account called “unhchicks.” The post shows an email from a college student writing to WMUR saying the student has “allegedly assaulted numerous women and is known in his residence (Stoke Hall) as someone who constantly fiddles with women.”

Monday afternoon, University President James W. Dean Jr. posted a message condemning sexual assault at school and said the university is working to prevent such incidents from happening.

President Dean wrote: “For two reasons, it is difficult for members of our community to have a precise understanding of what happened and what the university did as a result of a report. sexual assault. First, the university does not publicly discuss the details of a sexual assault report because we respect the privacy of those involved and do not interfere with any investigation.

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“Second, there is often a lot of conversation on social media following a reported incident, and a lot of what is shared on social media is just not true. These factors are relevant to the current incident and to virtually all of these incidents, ”he continued.

Outrage in response to the petition and the shared Instagram post led to a student-led protest on Friday night outside President Dean’s residence. As reported by the UNH student newspaper, The New Hampshire, the demonstration then moved to the main entrance of Stoke Hall.

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Inside the building, Dean of Students Michael Blackman, a university police employee and a representative from SHARPP were on hand to meet with residents of the building in light of recent allegations that arose in the lobby. Blackman would then come out to speak with the crowd of around 100 protesters, who were singing and some of whom were giving speeches.

Police investigation

Chief Dean did not identify any suspects in the department’s active sexual assault investigation. Regarding the online petition and social media posts that have circulated in recent days regarding allegations of sexual misconduct, he said “people should be careful what they see and hear on social media. social implicating the correctness of things “.

“However, the student protest is actually a big sign. It means there is a conversation about sexual violence, and I think it’s an important conversation to have, ”he said. “Their rally was peaceful, well-meaning and I am very proud of the way they behaved.”

Likewise, President Dean’s message on Monday also advised students and community members to exercise caution when viewing social media posts alleging sexual violence and misconduct.

“Please be careful when using social media, especially anonymous social media. Inaccurate information can spread quickly and the dissemination of inaccurate or unverified information can contribute to feelings of confusion and fear, ”he wrote. “In particular, some social media posts indicated that there had been a spate of sexual assaults linked to the recent report or that there was an increase in incidents at UNH. Although we are only aware of what is reported to us, we have no information at this time that either of these statements is true. “

The school’s student body president Sophia Spina and vice president Alex Colella released a statement on social media on Friday acknowledging the series of allegations that had been made.

“We are aware of the recent allegations of sexual assault and stand in solidarity with survivors of sexual assault,” read their post on Instagram. “We are committed to creating a safer environment for everyone on this campus and will not condone or respect this kind of behavior. Our thoughts are with the survivors as they go through this difficult time. “

Members of the school’s Student Senate unanimously passed a resolution at their Sunday meeting urging the school to take “swift” action on the allegations because “the student body is extremely touched and deeply outraged by this latest alleged incident of sexual assault “.

The national rape, abuse and incest network reports that women who attend university between the ages of 18 and 24 are three times more at risk of sexual violence than women in other age groups. Likewise, RAINN says that women between the ages of 18 and 24 who are not in college are four times more vulnerable to sexual violence than women of different ages.

Only one in five female students who experience sexual violence reports it to law enforcement, says RAINN, also noting that more than half of all sexual assaults in college occur in the fall semester between August and November.

Ahead of the students’ return for the fall semester, the school sent a timely warning to college students after an off-campus male student was accused of allegedly sexually assaulting two women during incidents separate later in the summer. After interacting with the women through dating apps Tinder and Bumble, the student was accused of sexually assaulting them at his Madbury Road apartment.

From August:UNH alert: Two women report student sexually assaulted them after meeting on dating apps

“We condemn all forms of assault here and will do our best to ensure that when we have the information we need to address it appropriately,” Chief Dean said of the department’s ongoing investigation on Monday. .

If you need help

Seacoast Media Group provides the following information as a public service:

Victims of sexual violence who attend one of the three campuses of the University of New Hampshire can contact the university’s Title IX coordinator, Nadine Petty, at (603) 862-1058 or by email at nadine.petty @ unh.edu.

The UNH Sexual Harassment and Rape Prevention Program offers support services to victims of sexual violence and can be contacted at (603) 862-3494 or find information on unh.edu/sharpp.

UNH psychological and counseling services can be contacted at (603) 862-2090.

The school police department can be contacted at (603) 862-1212.

Haven has trained confidential lawyers available to help those affected by domestic and sexual violence. The 24 hour hotline is (603) 994-SAFE (7233) or visit havennh.org.

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