Student assaulted in Pioneer

A female University student was sexually assaulted by two males early Sunday morning, police said.

A female University student was sexually assaulted in a Pioneer Hall restroom early Sunday.

According to an e-mail alert sent by University officials Sunday morning, the student was pulled into a third-floor restroom around 1 a.m., held down by one suspect and assaulted by another.

The e-mail described the suspects as two black males, one between 20 and 24 years old and around 6 feet tall, the other 18 to 22 years old, between 5 feet, 7 inches and 5 feet, 10 inches tall. Both were described as having muscular builds and short dark hair.

University police Chief Greg Hestness said he believes the suspects came in through an unmonitored entrance in the building.

Four hours of video near the main Pioneer Hall entrances didn’t include images of the suspects, he said.

Hestness believes “that they came through with some other student who had legitimate business there, or a door was propped open.”

It’s unknown whether the suspects are University students, only that they didn’t know the victim.

Jamie Tiedemann, director of the Aurora Center, which provides education and counseling services related to sexual assault, relationship violence and stalking on campus, said these types of “stranger assaults” are rare – about 90 percent of sexual assaults are by acquaintances.

“It’s much more disconcerting for the other people who are in Pioneer Hall or in other residence halls,” she said.

Three sexual assaults were reported to University police in 2007, and two were reported in 2006. All of those were acquaintance assaults, Hestness said.

This case will be handled like all other sexual assault cases, he said.

“We take the victim at her word – see what evidence there is. If we can develop a suspect, we’ll submit it to the county attorney for consideration of charges,” he said.

The victim was taken to the hospital for a sexual assault exam, Hestness said, and is working with an Aurora Center advocate.

Tiedemann said this incident is “troubling.”

“It’s just a sad commentary that people are sexually assaulting our young women,” she said.