Links between two attempted sexual assaults on campus continue to be investigated

By Eric Anderson

The University Police Department and the Champaign Police Department are working together to investigate two incidents of attempted sexual assault.

The first incident occurred Dec. 14 around 5:30 p.m. at the Illini Union. The second assault occurred Jan. 7 on the 600 block of West Washington Street. Police are still investigating whether the incidents are related.

Both female victims escaped with minor injuries. The Champaign victim had a small laceration on her hand and small scratches. The Union victim sought medical care for minor abrasions and small scratches.

The police are not yet ready to release the name of a potential suspect or suspects, but they do have some people of interest.

The two assaults occurred in the wake of the Nov. 1 attempted sexual assaults.

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“Crimes are clustered,” said Chief of Police Jeff Christensen. “We see (crime clusters) with robberies and burglaries.” Nevertheless, Christensen added that it was unusual to have four similar assaults in less than three months.

The police are considering the two recent attempted assaults independently from those on Nov. 1.

“Anything could be possible and we do look at (copycat crime) … But we have to look at the crimes independently,” he said.

Police investigation strategies vary by case. They use tips reported by the community and investigations that can reveal DNA evidence, foot imprints or shoe imprints to compile suspects.

“We’re very proactive in nature,” Christensen said. “We talk about crime to the students and community all the time … It’s problematic because it just takes an individual that’s intended on doing this to show up on campus.”

University police are collaborating with Champaign police to find out whether the Dec. 14 and Jan. 7 incidents are related.

“We are very fortunate that we all work together, especially on something like these assaults,” Christensen said of the joint efforts of the University and Champaign police. “That’s how the earlier (Nov. 1) subjects were caught. One of the officers had noticed a person that fit the description … and she built reasonable suspicion that he might be the suspect.”

Christensen stressed that the community, students and police work together in practicing safe crime prevention. Suspects need the opportunity to commit a crime. Collaborative preventative efforts take away the opportunity. Students should use Safe Rides, Safe Walks, emergency phones and group travel.

“We call (the assaults) crimes of opportunity,” he said. “Utilizing different resources on campus takes away the opportunity for a suspect to commit a crime.”

Christensen recommended the Rape Aggression Defense (R.A.D.) System course for women interested in learning realistic self-defense tactics and techniques.

“We’re thankful these are only attempted sexual assaults,” Christensen said.

“We all need to work on this together,” he added. “We’re deeply invested in working with the community.”