Police investigate sexual assault reports near Purdue

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind.- Police are investigating several sexual assaults over a span of four days near Purdue University. A majority of the victims know their alleged attacker, police said.

The latest incident was reported Sunday morning in the 200 block of South Street. Investigators have spoken to all the parties involved.  Police were notified about another four incidents between Thursday and Friday.

Captain David Van Vactor said that while five  reported incidents in such a short time is not normal, he does not believe they are related.  No arrests have been made.

Late Tuesday afternoon, police said two complainants asked them to stop investigating their cases. So, two of the five cases will be closed. Another case has been forwarded to the prosecutor's office and two others are still under investigation. Police confirm at least one of the incidents involved Purdue students.

Purdue sent out four separate alerts to students due to each incident's proximity to campus. Freshman Taylor Hickey said she received both a text and an email.

"It kind of terrified me with how close everything is on campus," Hickey said. "It was a little intimidating especially as a freshman."

There were 22 rapes reported on the Purdue campus in 2015, according to the Clery report. Another 15 rapes were reported off campus.

"As girl coming to college, you’re somewhat aware of the statistics but you’re always going to be shocked when you hear the exact numbers," Hickey said.

A big push from student groups for the university to offer more resources to victims led to the creation of the Center for Advocacy, Response and Education (CARE).

"We took an assessment and really looked at student need and wanted to be there in terms of supporting them if they were victims of sexual assault, stalking, relationship violence, that sort of thing," said Beth McCuskey, vice provost for student life at Purdue.

CARE provides things like confidential counseling, a 24/7 hotline and even accompaniment to the police station when a student wants to make a report. Learn more about CARE here.

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