Editors’ Note: The UC Santa Cruz Police Department has concluded this assault and rape did not occur and was staged by the alleged victim. City on a Hill Press will continue following this story, but for more information now, readers may find more at:
A 21-year-old woman visiting campus was raped and beaten by an unknown perpetrator on a pathway between Quarry Amphitheater and the Classroom Unit buildings at approximately 12:30 p.m. on Feb. 17. Since then, an increase in anxiety has been noticeable in the campus community.
On Monday the UC Santa Cruz Police Department released a sketch of the assailant’s face. He is described as a 5’10” white male weighing at least 200 pounds who spoke in a “deep growl.” UCSC Police Chief Nader Oweis said the campus police department has brought in additional officers on overtime after a substantial amount of tip-offs were received.
While a connection between the recent assault of a student off campus and this case has not been ruled out, Oweis said, no evidence of a linkage had emerged at the time of publication.
Oweis said rapes by an unknown perpetrator have historically been very rare on the campus.
“I want people to know that no specific person was targeted per se [and] that these were potentially more crimes of opportunity that occurred,” he said.
To address specific safety concerns, the police department will be reintroducing a nighttime campus safety officer escort service and may host additional self-defense workshops in spring. During a public forum on Feb 20, personnel from both the city and campus police departments answered more specific questions about the attack and emphasized UCSC’s safety and well-being resources. Oweis hopes by encouraging a “community of care-taking” at UCSC, the university community and the campus police department can make UCSC a truly safe place.
“Too often, I don’t think people want to get involved. They may see something, but think somebody else is going to report it,” Oweis said. “Even if it turns out to be nothing, let us come out and assess the situation. We will never criticize anybody for doing this.”
Fear of contacting the police — or any other campus personnel — should never outweigh concerns over a potentially dangerous situation, Oweis said.
“When the anxiety’s high, I think there’s a lack of trust. And I want to work toward building that trust,” Oweis said. “We’ve instituted a community-oriented policing philosophy. The community involvement is key to this whole thing. So if we can bring down a little bit of the anxiety, improve the education and the information, [we can] make reasonable, rational decisions as we move forward.”
As UCSC consists of a sprawling, entangled maze of locations and their passageways, however, Oweis said a safe UCSC campus requires a communitywide effort.
“The police department can’t do it by themselves,” he said. “It means that the community is our eyes and ears — that everybody has a shared responsibility.”