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UMW student hurt in sex assault
Student attacked at UMW parking deck

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Date published: 10/4/2008


Police and University of Mary Washington officials are hoping a $10,000 reward will lead to the man they say violently sexually assaulted a UMW student early yesterday in the campus parking garage.

The woman was walking from her car on the third floor of the four-story parking deck when she was assaulted about 2 a.m., UMW spokeswoman Teresa Mannix said.

The student is a sophomore who lives on campus, Mannix said.

She said the woman's injuries were unknown as of yesterday, but she was admitted to Mary Washington Hospital after the assault. She was released from the hospital late yesterday afternoon.

The attacker, who did not have a weapon, is described as a 20- to 24-year-old white man with light-colored hair, green eyes and a soft, high-pitched voice. He is about 5 feet, 5 inches tall and had a tribal tattoo on his left arm. He was wearing a green T-shirt and jeans.

Mannix said the reward is from an anonymous donor and it will go to someone providing information that leads to the arrest and conviction of the suspect.

The victim did not know the attacker, Mannix said.

After the woman was attacked, she drove to Stafford County, where she called the Sheriff's Office, Mannix said.

The responding deputy called Fredericksburg police, and an investigator met the victim at the hospital. There, the investigator found out the attack had occurred on campus and called UMW police.

Mannix said the confusion of jurisdiction caused the delay in alerting students of the attack. An e-mail was sent to students about 4:30 a.m. yesterday.

Mannix said nothing about yesterday's attack indicated that the suspect was the man who attacked a runner on the path around the UMW track on Hanover Street earlier this year.

"We don't have anything that could link the two," Mannix said.

The man in the earlier incident was described as a much larger person with dark hair.

Mannix said that as a result of the recent attack, the university plans to have a security guard monitor the parking deck from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. daily.

There had been no security designated strictly to the garage, and there are no security cameras there, she said.

Crime statistics released earlier this week by the university show that forcible sex offenses on campus have decreased since 2005.

The number went from seven offenses in 2005 to six in 2006 and three in 2007. The numbers for 2008 are not yet available, Mannix said.

She said yesterday's attack is one of the most serious she's heard of on UMW's campus. It was the only attack in the parking garage since it opened in 2007.

UMW police are investigating the incident, and the Fredericksburg Police Department is assisting with forensic analysis.

Anyone with information about the incident is asked to call university police at 540/654-1025.

Ellen Biltz: 540/374-5424
Email: ebiltz@freelancestar.com

Have somebody with you, especially at night. If it's dark, walk with a buddy.

Be aware of your surroundings.

Have keys in hand when approaching your vehicle. This can help for two reasons. 1: You're vulnerable when you're getting into your vehicle because your back is turned. The faster you can get inside, the better. 2: Keys in hand can be used as a weapon in case of assault.

Leave your vehicle in a well-lighted area. Park under a light or as close to the front doors of a store or building as possible.

It is a personal decision whether to attempt to fight off an assailant. But if you decide to, attack the vulnerable parts of body such as the face, base of throat (Adam's apple), genitals, knees, top of the feet and the area between a person's collarbones.

Don't feel that choosing not to fight is wrong. The decision may hinge on whether there's a weapon. When faced with a deadly weapon, compliance might be the better option. The goal is to come out of the situation alive.

Pay attention to details: What does the attacker smell like? What does his voice sound like? Does he have unique marks or tattoos?

Make as much noise as possible to attract attention and scare off the attacker.

--Natatia Bledsoe, Fredericksburg Police Department spokeswoman and former RAD (Rape Aggression Defense) class instructor.