2 attempted sex assaults reported at Minn. college

4:17 PM, Mar 8, 2011   |    comments
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  • 2 attempted sex assaults reported at Minn. college
  • 2 attempted sex assaults reported at Minn. college
  • 2 attempted sex assaults reported at Minn. college
  • 2 attempted sex assaults reported at Minn. college
  • 2 attempted sex assaults reported at Minn. college

ST. PETER, Minn. -- Gustavus Adolphus College is stepping up security after sexual assaults on two female students were attempted on campus over the weekend.

The women were walking alone at night. Police believe the same man is responsible.

The first attack happened on a path near the campus arboretum about 1:30 Saturday morning.  The second was near the Alfred Nobel Hall of Science about 8:30 Sunday night.

In both cases the attacker ran away after students fought back.

"Female students need to be very concerned about this," said Matt Peters, police chief of St. Peter.

Peters called the attacks "very rare."  He said he couldn't think of the last time the city recorded an attempted or completed sexual assualt by a stranger.

Students expressed similar sentiments. "If it happens at the U it's kind of like in the big city," said Becca Nelson, a freshman from Eden Prairie, "but here at Gustavus it's not something we're used to."

Peters said the attacks occurred in well traveled areas with overhead lighting.   He said he often sees students walking alone on campus, a measure of how safe they feel at Gustavus, but also a practice the chief says will have to change.

Madison Heckel didn't wait for the advice.  "Right when I found out last night I called up my friend and asked him to walk me back from my lab tonight," said the freshman from White Bear Lake as she headed to class Monday evening.

A briefing Monday at the campus chapel drew 1300 students, faculty and staff.   Reporters were not allowed inside, but Gustavus officials said they promised students more patrols by campus security.

The school also urged students to walk with a buddy or call for an escort provided by the college.  Gustavus plans to beef up its escort program in light of the attacks.    

Sarah Larson, a freshman from Woodbury, said the meeting helped put her mind at ease.  "I feel a lot safer knowing there are going to be more people to escort us," she said.

Chief Peters says both victims received minor injuries, though neither required medical attention.

David Fienen, Gustavus Adolphus provost and dean, said to the best of his knowledge both students are still on campus.  "We're certainly working on getting them the help that they need," he said. "Our primary concern of course is with the safety of our students on campus."






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