Second sexual assault in two weeks in an MU residence hall

Tuesday, October 15, 2013 | 8:09 p.m. CDT; updated 9:14 a.m. CDT, Wednesday, October 16, 2013

*UPDATE: This story has been revised to correct an error related to which incident resulted in a report to MU Police and to clarify the chronology.

COLUMBIA — MU police have begun investigating a sexual assault that took place in an MU residence hall on Oct. 6. *An earlier case that also took place in a residence hall has not yet been officially reported to police.

In both cases, MU Police have taken custody of the sexual assault kits — key evidence in rape cases. But MU Police Capt. Scott Richardson said police are actively investigating only the Oct. 6 incident because the victim in the September 22 case has not yet spoken to police.

In the most recent incident, a woman who lives in a hall in the Rollins Group, which includes Gillette and Hudson, was assaulted by "an unknown male" after she opened the door to her room, expecting a friend. The hall's exterior doors were all locked at the time, according to the Clery release about the incident.

In the Sept. 22 incident, the woman told an examining nurse at University Hospital that she was assaulted in Laws Hall between midnight and 2 a.m.

Frankie Minor, MU's director of residential life, said the resident first reported the Oct. 6 incident to the Department of Residential Life, which encouraged her to seek medical treatment and counseling. The department reported the details of the incident to MU police.

The victim originally chose not to speak to MU police, but she contacted them on Saturday, Richardson said.

Richardson said it was unknown whether the assaults were connected.

Minor said that although the Department of Residential Life encourages students to report assaults, seek medical help and attend counseling, students are not required to do so.

One in four U.S. college women has faced rape or attempted rape, according to materials from MU's Relationship and Sexual Violence Prevention Center.

Minor said that although safety and security are a priority in the residence halls, there is no guarantee events like assaults can always be prevented.

He said he encourages students to be aware of their surroundings at all times and take advantage of the resources offered to them on campus.

The RSVP Center and the MU Counseling Center offer resources for victims of sexual violence, and MU police teach free rape aggression defense, or R.A.D., classes.

Minor said it is important for students to make safety a concern. Students should avoid propping their doors open and walking alone at night and should always let someone know where they are going, he said.

"Rape is never the survivor's fault, only the perpetrator's." Minor said. "Survivors shouldn't be ashamed to report the incident."

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