The Coral Gables Police Department is actively investigating an attempted sexual battery that occurred at UM near the 6100 block of San Amaro Drive Monday, Oct. 14, between 7:30 and 8 p.m.
According to the official police report, a female student reported that she was attacked by a man who came up from behind and grabbed her as she was walking by the baseball stadium. The man then allegedly dragged the victim behind some bushes in an attempt to sexually assault her, but the victim physically resisted and was able to escape.
The man fled on foot and is described as a six-foot tall, heavy-set unshaven white male with short hair who was last seen wearing tan shorts and white sneakers.
According to Officer Martin Barros, a Coral Gables police spokesman, the woman suffered only minor injuries.
A sketch of the attacker’s tattooed hand was released to the public Friday afternoon.
It depicted a tribal tattoo and was posted in every residence hall and student union area and around classrooms and buildings throughout the UM campus.
“I really appreciate how the University has gone ahead and acted so quickly to this incident,” student Maria Rivera said. “I feel like all of these efforts will yield an eventual arrest of this scumbag and will prevent others like him from committing similar offenses.”
Despite the efforts taken by UM and local authorities, some students remain concerned.
“I have a class until 7:40 p.m. on Monday nights and usually walk to my car by myself,” sophomore Justine Rich said. “After the assault last week I’m not sure how I’ll go to my car. I don’t want to walk by myself.”
“I no longer feel safe at what I once considered my second home,” junior Natalie Gilinski said. “I now carry Mace wherever I go.”
“We urge all students to report any suspicious behavior immediately,” said Henry Christensen, director of public safety.
Some students feel the security on campus should be heightened to avoid potentially serious situations from ensuing.
“Our security guards on campus should spend less time giving parking tickets and more time patrolling the campus,” senior Stacey Goldman said.
“There should be security guards stationed on the pathways from classrooms to parking areas,” senior Amanda Goldberg said. “In addition, it seems as though extra security should be placed in the parking garages.”
Other students disagree.
“There is normally security by the baseball field where the attack occurred,” senior Tracy Aschenbrenner said. “That’s partly why I’m so shocked that this happened.”
Last March, Coral Gables police arrested an alleged serial rapist, Willie Rolle, who preyed on two UM students around the San Amaro Drive area in 1998 and other women in Coconut Grove and West Miami.
According to Dr. Pat Whitely, VP for student affairs, and representatives from public safety, the administration is working closely with public safety to increase the security around campus.
“I am working with the director of public safety [on this issue],” Whitely said. “Security has been increased and students are urged to use the security escort system.”
“We’ve extended the police patrols around campus,” Christensen said. “We’re stressing that students utilize the escort service and blue light phones around campus.”
Local authorities and administrators ask that students avoid going anywhere alone after dark.
“People need to be aware of what’s going on around them at all times,” Sgt. Raul Pedroso, Community Affairs Supervisor for the Coral Gables Police, said. “Don’t walk or run alone – go in pairs or groups and don’t let yourself be distracted by cell phones or head sets.”
“Many times people say that a little voice inside them was telling them that something wasn’t quite right,” Pedroso said. “Some people ignore it because they feel like they’re acting paranoid, but we must learn to listen to our instinct.”
“The area where the attack occurred is heavily traveled,” Pedroso said. “We are asking anyone who may have noticed a suspicious person or vehicle in the area to contact the local authorities immediately.”
According to Pedroso, anyone who provides any information that leads to the arrest and ultimate conviction of the attacker will be eligible for a reward of up to $1,000 by calling Crimestoppers, an anonymous tip hotline that offers rewards for tips leading to an arrest.
Anyone with information regarding Monday night’s attempted rape is asked to call Detective C. Park of the Coral Gables Police at 305-460-5439 or Detective Ray Santiago at UM Public Safety at 305-284-1918 (office) or 305-753-5553 (cell).
You may also call Crimestoppers at 305-471-TIPS .
To request a campus security escort, call 305-284-6666 or use one of the blue light security telephones located throughout the campus.