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Editorial Cartoon: Alabama and IVF
Editorial Cartoon: Alabama and IVF
Published March 1, 2024

UMPD names suspect of interest in sexual assault case

Matthew Pengra is sought for attempted sexual assault at Wilson Library.

.University police have named a suspect in their investigation of an attempted sexual assault in Wilson Library.

Matthew Pengra, 35, of New Brighton, is wanted for three offenses – criminal sexual conduct-molestation, false imprisonment and attempted assault – after he allegedly grabbed a woman Monday in a Wilson Library stairwell, according to the police report.

Pengra was identified by witnesses after University police pulled his image off security cameras in the library, University Deputy

Police Chief Steve Johnson said.

“We recognized the man, but when the alert with the image from the cameras went out we received phone calls saying who he was,” Johnson said.

Pengra has a criminal history that dates back to 1992. He was arrested in July 2006 and was charged with molesting a woman in the University Village Apartments. He was also arrested in 1994 on lurking and peeping charges.

His other past offenses include driving without a license, tampering with a motor vehicle, possession of drug paraphernalia and a narcotics violation.

University police sent a crime alert to students Monday after 1:15 p.m., the time of the alleged incident.

A male suspect, later identified as Pengra, followed the female

victim into the building and offered to assist her in finding materials in the library, according to the alert.

He led her into a remote

staircase where he grabbed

her and briefly held her against her will, and she started to scream.

American studies senior Christopher Pleasants, who was on the second floor of the library at the time, said he heard the screams coming from the stairwell.

“At first I thought someone was screwing around,” he said, “but they were screams I’d never heard before.”

Most of the people were trying to ignore the screams, Pleasants said, but eventually he went to see what was going on.

“People were running up and down the stairs,” he said. “I thought maybe there was a shooting.”

After he reached the victim and heard a description of the suspect, he said he had seen the man before.

“He was leaving the staircase as I was entering it,” Pleasants said.

Pleasants said he and a couple other witnesses tried to chase down Pengra but lost him near the Carlson School of Management.

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