Student reports assault in library

A female student was forcibly fondled in Gelman Library last weekend, according to a University Crime Alert sent out Wednesday afternoon.

The alleged victim, whose age was not disclosed, was “assisting the suspect” when the suspect “put his hands down her pants and up her shirt,” according to the Crime Alert. University spokeswoman Michelle Sherrard said the incident occurred on the building’s first floor, but did not elaborate on the meaning of “assisting the suspect.” Sherrard also declined to say whether the student victim was a Gelman employee or library visitor.

The suspect – who is described in the alert as a 35 to 45-year-old black male, around 6-feet-5-inches tall and weighing 265 pounds – left the library after the alleged victim fled the area. The student, who did not report the crime to the University Police Department until Tuesday evening, chose not to file a report with the Metropolitan Police Department, Sherrard said.

Sherrard said that the University did not know the identity of the alleged attacker or how he entered the building. Library visitors must swipe a GWorld card or sign in at the front desk to legally access Gelman, and Sherrard said UPD was looking at entrance records as part of its investigation. The University does not know if the suspect is affiliated with GW, Sherrard added.

University Police Chief Dolores Stafford was not available to directly answer questions Wednesday afternoon and deferred questions to Sherrard.

Sherrard said she did not know whether UPD would adjust patrols in and around the library in the wake of the incident. After a student was attacked with a hammer in Duques Hall last October, the University stationed one police officer in the building during open hours and increased officer traffic in the area.

Two librarians interviewed Wednesday afternoon said they had not heard about the fondling incident before they received the Crime Alert. University Librarian Jack Siggins declined to comment on the incident and deferred questions to UPD.

In October, a University of Maryland student was taken into custody after he allegedly tried to touch multiple female students while they were sleeping in Thurston Hall. Last month, there were multiple reports of a man on a bicycle exposing his genitals to women on the street.

Amy D’Onofrio and Hadas Gold contributed to this report.

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