State College, PA - Centre County - Central Pennsylvania - Home of Penn State University

Authorities Seek Public's Assistance in Indecent Assault Case

by on January 22, 2014 1:14 PM

Authorities are seeking the public's assistance after an indecent assault in which a man attacked a woman on the street last weekend.

State College police say it happened around 6:25 p.m. Saturday. A female Penn State student reported an unknown male attacked her in the 200 block of "K" Alley.

The male reportedly "bear hugged" the woman, knocked her to the ground and attempted to pull down her pants while groping at her lower body.

The victim was able to escape the assault after yelling and kicking her attacker several times. The suspect fled, running westbound toward Highland Alley and South Sparks Street.

Investigators describe the suspect as a white college-aged man with brown hair. He was wearing a baseball hat and blue hooded sweatshirt with writing on it.

Anyone with information about this incident should contact the State College Police Department at 814-234-7150.

"The safety and well-being of all of students, other residents, and visitors is of paramount importance to our police department," police said Wednesday in a statement.

Police also released the following safety tips to help prevent future similar incidents:

Avoid traveling alone - Whether you are going out for an evening with your friends or just walking to class on campus, it is always safer to be with another person or with a group of people. Avoid walking or jogging alone, especially at night. Vary your route and stay in well-traveled, well-lit areas.

Park in well lighted areas - If you are unable to travel with another person or group, park your car in a well-lighted area. If the parking lot is dark with little activity, park elsewhere.

Avoid isolated areas - It is more difficult to get help if no one is around.

Be aware of your surroundings - Avoid putting music headphones in both ears so you can be more aware of your surroundings. Are there suspicious people loitering around? Knowing where you are and who is around you may help you to find a way to get out of a bad situation.

Keep your hands free - Try not to load yourself down with books, bags or other items as this can make you appear more vulnerable.

Keep a whistle on your keychain - If you are in an uncomfortable situation or you feel that you are being followed, blow the heck out of your whistle. This will startle the attacker and will also draw attention to you. This is the last thing the offender wants -- attention.

Tell someone where you are going - Let a friend or family member know where you are going and what time you plan on arriving. Call that person when you get to your destination. If someone knows your plans and you have not arrived, this will alert them to a possible need for help.

Always carry a cell phone - Did you know that even if your cell is out of minutes, you can still dial 911 from the phone?

Trust your instincts - If something does not feel right, it probably isn't. Get out of the situation.

Know your limits when it comes to alcohol use - If you chose to consume alcohol, do so in moderation and stop when you begin to feel the effects of the alcohol. Excessive consumption of alcohol may make you more vulnerable and significantly distort your memory and recall of events. Illegal drug use or use of prescription medications will also greatly impair your judgment, ability to care/protect yourself and will make more vulnerable to assaults.

Avoid leaving a social event or being alone with someone you just met - Do not allow yourself to be isolated with someone you do not trust or know well.

Watch out for each other - When you go to a social gathering, go with a group of friends. Arrive together, check in with each other throughout the evening, and leave together. At parties and bars, keep a friend in sight, check in from time to time to make sure you're both comfortable with how things are going.

Never leave a drink unattended or accept a drink that you did not see poured.

Always lock your doors and windows - Keep your home and car doors locked at all times. Have your key ready as you approach your apartment, home or vehicle.

Request a security escort by calling 814-865-WALK (9255) – Penn State Police offer the Security Escort Service which is designed to provide walking accompaniment for Penn State students, employees, and visitors who may feel unsafe walking alone on campus at night. Call the Security Escort Service before traveling alone.

If you are sexually or physically assaulted:

- Report the attack to police by calling 911 or go to a clinic or emergency room immediately. You can decide later whether or not to press charges, but it is critical that you receive medical attention and caring support as soon as possible.

- Find a safe environment anywhere away from the attacker. Ask a trusted friend to stay with you for support.

- Know that what happened was not your fault and that now you should do what is best for you.

- Preserve evidence of the attack – if sexually assaulted do not change clothes, bathe or brush your teeth.

- Write down all the details you can recall about the attack & the attacker.

For assistance:

Centre County Women's Resource Center 1-877-234-5050 (toll free) or (814) 234-5050

National Sexual Assault Hotline - free, confidential counseling, 24 hours/day: 1-800-656-HOPE

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The staff of StateCollege.com prepared this article. Reach us at (814) 238-6201.
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