University Police Search for Unidentified Rape Suspect

A female WCU student reported to University Police on December 20th that she had been raped on October 14th behind Benton Hall.

The incident reportedly occurred the Sunday after Fall Break and the suspect in the case has yet to be identified.

This is the first non-acquaintance rape reported at WCU since 1989.

The suspect was reportedly wearing a black sweatshirt with a hood, a black ski mask and black sweat pants. He is an African-American that is approximately 6 feet 4 inches tall and weighs about 230 pounds.

“If we can identify the person, it would be our intention to prosecute,” stated Gene McAbee, director of WCU Public Safety. Charges would be filed regardless of the victim’s decision to press charges.

McAbbe also said that his office has checked with other campuses all over the southeast to see if any other incidents with similar characteristics have occurred, but they have yet to receive any positive responses.

The University Police urges anyone to call if they have any information on any similar incidents at WCU.

In WCU’s 2001 crime statistics, which will be released next week, five sexual assaults were reported for the year. Three allegedly occurred in residence halls, this case, which reportedly occurred on-campus, but not inside a residence hall, and one other that reportedly occurred off-campus.

In an all-campus e-mail sent out this past Monday, the University Police Department issued some safety measures for people to consider, first of which was to not walk alone.

Secondly, they recommend not using the wooded pathway between the Presbyterian Student Center and Albright/Benton Hall, also known as Reservoir Ridge Road.

They also recommend walking in lighted, visible areas, and to report any suspicious persons or circumstance to the University Police.

Lastly, they ask that people report any crimes to the University Police by dialing 911, and to also contact them if anyone knows any information about any similar or related incidents that have occurred, but have not been reported.