Fifty-year-old woman reports rape at Fairview

Also, a man was charged with indecent exposure at Campus Pizza.

by James Nord

A 50-year-old woman reported she was raped June 23 in the surgical intensive care unit at the University of Minnesota Medical Center, Fairview, officials said. It is unclear whether she was a patient at the hospital.

The incident is at least the third reported rape of a woman 50 years or older at Fairview in the past year. Spokeswoman Jennifer Amundson declined to comment on the frequency of the reports, but suggested an examination of the number of cases in which charges were actually filed.

University police Chief Greg Hestness was unable to release many details about the incident. He said it didn’t appear the victim, who reported the rape Saturday, was physically harmed.

He said a victim belatedly reporting a sexual assault is not uncommon.

“It’s probably the most underreported crime there is, by far,” he said.

Hestness said an investigator is assigned to the case and that a possible suspect has been identified.

He said police are building a case against the man before they consult with the Hennepin County Attorney’s office to possibly charge him.

Although Amundson declined to comment on whether the victim was a patient, she said the hospital takes reported sexual assaults and rapes very seriously.

Peeping Tom

Close to midnight Sunday, University of Minnesota sophomore Erin Harwood caught an unknown suspect videotaping her through a hole cut in the window screen of her room as she changed clothes.

It is unclear if the suspect in this case is the same person police believe to be behind a group of three crimes from late May and early June in which a man threatened to physically or sexually assault a victim, Minneapolis police Sgt. Jesse Garcia said.

Harwood was unable to identify the suspect, as she “just screamed and ran out of the room” after she noticed the camera, she said.

“I was pretty much mortified,” she said. “I just felt really violated because I didn’t know how long he’d been there or if he’s done it before, anything like that. I was so scared.”

Harwood called the police, but said she was unimpressed with their response.

“They took 40 minutes to get there, and they didn’t really do anything about it,” she said.

Harwood and her roommate also informed police that someone had approached her roommate’s window about three weeks earlier, she said.

Harwood, a speech-language-hearing sciences sophomore, said she is moving out of the 22nd Avenue Southeast home. She hitched a ride with her brother back to her home in South Dakota and is searching
for a new place to live.

“I’d feel a lot better if they had caught the guy or had any inkling as to where he is,” Harwood said. “He was videotaping me change.”

Campus Pizza Exposure

Robert Thomas Stierna, 62, was arrested for indecent exposure in the men’s bathroom of Campus Pizza on Washington Avenue Southeast early Saturday morning, according to police.

An employee found Stierna, a possible homeless man who frequents the area, looking at pornographic magazines in a bathroom stall twice over the course of about 30 minutes. Minneapolis police found him in the same position a third time.

University student Tom Alane, a cook at the restaurant, said the man went into the bathroom after entering the restaurant with a small push cart. Employees originally considered kicking him out because they thought he had a bottle of alcohol, Alane said.

After Stierna had been in the bathroom for about 20 minutes, Alane decided to check on him. As he walked in, the man immediately flushed the toilet.

“I look over to the stall and I can just see three [pornographic] magazines laid out right in front of him,” Alane said.

He said he wasn’t specifically able to see what Stierna was doing, “fortunately.”

Alane said he left the bathroom and waited for the man to exit too.

When Stierna didn’t leave, he went back in and “the magazines were back out on the floor,” Alane said. “It was a bad scene.”

A server in the restaurant called the police, who entered the bathroom when they arrived. Alane said they were greeted with the same scene that he had witnessed.

Police told the man, ” ‘you have a minute to come out and get cleaned up,’ ” Alane said.

As he exited, police asked Stierna twice, “Did you wash your hands?’ “

Police also charged Stierna with disorderly conduct. Alane described him as “loud” and “hard to keep still.”

“He was saying he didn’t do anything wrong, which was obviously not the case,” Alane said.

After they apprehended him, police took Stierna out of the restaurant, Alane said.

“It was unbelievable,” Alane said. “I had no idea that that’s what it would have been when I walked in there. I thought maybe he was mixing a drink or something like that, and I walk in, he flushes the toilet, I see the magazines. It was quite something.”