Purdue police investigating alleged sexual assault – 1 of 4 reports made this week

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WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (April 8, 2016) -- Purdue police are investigating claims of a sexual assault at one of their residence halls.

Police say a woman reported the assault early Friday morning inside Hawkins Hall. Students who live in the hall were quickly alerted to the crime.

“It’s just so scary to think about living at this building and it happened here,” said Purdue student MacKenzie Matters.

“Our investigation has determined this is a non-stranger sexual assault that occurred this morning,” said Purdue police Capt. Eric Chin.

Purdue police couldn’t provide many specifics on the alleged assault, but the incident at Hawkins is the fourth reported sexual assault on campus this week.

Police also took reports of sexual assaults at Wiley hall as well as at Tarkington hall. Those incidents took place last October and November before being reported this week.

Police say that’s not unusual, nor is it cause for alarm.

“This is a very safe campus. We believe in transparency,” said Chin.

“It’s definitely scary to think that it happens so often,” said Matters.

A survey of 27 Association of American University campuses last year found at Purdue 13.2 percent of female undergrads claimed to have been sexually assaulted in their first year on campus. That matched the survey average. 21.9 percent said they had been sexually assaulted since coming to Purdue. That’s slightly less than the average of 23.1 percent.

Nationwide, one in five women is sexually assaulted while in college. The same is true at Purdue.

Still, administrators want to see those numbers even lower.

“The overall goal is to eliminate sexual assaults on campuses,” said Purdue Dean of Students Katie Sermersheim.

Sermersheim says the university plans to open a new care center in August to serve as an easy first step for students to report sex crimes and get the help they need.

“Purdue has always been responsive and looking to do the right things to help students,” said Sermersheim.

As for the assault at Hawkins, police do have a person of interest but no arrests have been made.

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