Security increases at Rice Hall after attack

The University Police Department has stationed an officer in Rice Hall, the building that houses top administrators, after a man attacked and attempted to sexually assault a female employee there Tuesday.

As University and Metropolitan police officers investigate the incident, which took place in a third-floor restroom late Tuesday, GW’s top security official advised staffers to take caution when alone in the building and consider using a “buddy system” or notifying colleagues when working late.

The female said she was attacked just after the lights went out but fought back, causing the suspect to flee, according to a Safety and Security Alert.

Senior Associate Vice President for Safety and Security Darrell Darnell said in an email Wednesday that officers had not learned any information beyond the alert, but said his office “is doing all that it can to determine who committed this crime” and added that he is “reviewing the security procedures in place in Rice Hall to ensure that we have the highest level of security possible for this facility.”

All employees and students should carry a GWorld card and should escort any visitors, Darnell said, adding that visitors should “have a need” to be in the building. Visitors had not been required to sign in or show identification when entering the building, located at 2121 I St, until the incident. The elevators do not require individuals to tap in before use, though most offices are behind locked doors after hours.

The victim said the man was about 5’7” and wore some sort of mask or scarf, but she could not describe him further because the room went dark before she was attacked, according to the safety alert.

It is unclear which police department is leading the case.

Both UPD and MPD are on the case, University spokeswoman Michelle Sherrard said. She deferred questions on the incident to MPD, including the time the alleged attack took place.

“The time of the incident would be included in the MPD report,” she said in an email.

UPD reports are closed to the public. MPD officers at the Second District station and public information officer Paul Metcalf said MPD did not have a record of the incident and directed questions back to the University.

When asked again about the incident and for the report’s identification number, Sherrard reiterated that questions should be directed to MPD.

Sherrard declined to say whether or not Rice Hall was open at the time. She did not return a request for comment as to whether or not UPD had security footage from that evening or what job title the victim held.

The incident occurred on the third floor, which shares space with the Academic Scheduling Office and the Office of Student Financial Assistance.

Over the past year, UPD has cracked down on entry access into several residence halls, including Ivory Tower and South Hall. Students are required to provide a GWorld to enter during nighttime hours and must check in with security members if they don’t live in the halls to guard residences from intruders.

Some academic buildings on campus require GWorld tap access to enter after hours.

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