Assault cases disturb quiet summer in C-U

By Kate Szyszka

For those that remained in Campustown during the summer, it was obvious the atmosphere was different.

Campus facilities were less crowded, lines at bars were non-existent Monday through Wednesday, there was no pushing and shoving to make it across the Quad to class and the streets at night were quieter.

The emptiness of the streets may have contributed to the number of sexual assaults that occurred during the summer months, said University Police Lt. Roy Acree.

“If somebody wants to concentrate on one victim, it is easier during the summer because there are less people around,” he said.

Champaign police are still concerned with the assaults that occurred on the 500 block of East Healey in mid-June and early July.

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On June 14, a woman awoke during the night to a stranger touching her inappropriately. The man had entered her home through an unlocked door. He fled when the woman woke. The suspect also stole something from the woman’s purse.

On July 6, a woman was walking up her stairwell and was grabbed by a man from behind.

The suspect threatened to sexually assault her, but the woman was able to fight back and shout for help, causing the assailant to run when other residents heard the victim’s yells.

Campus police believe they solved the assault that occurred early on the morning of July 13.

A 19-year-old woman was walking home from a fraternity party when the suspect picked her up in a conversion van and brought her to the Arboretum parking lot in Urbana, south of the intersection of Lincoln and Florida avenues, where he proceeded to assault her.

On July 24, police received a tip on a Kenwood Avenue resident, who looked similar to a sketch of the suspect police released six days before.

The suspect, 27-year-old Justin Young of Champaign, was later arrested in Florida, after a warrant was issued based on DNA evidence, Acree said.

An attempted assault also occurred in the area of First and John streets at 2:30 a.m. last Saturday, where a 20-year-old University student was allegedly dragged to a driveway between two parked cars.

The attacker was scared away when he noticed another person witnessing the attack.

“We are very concerned with sexual assaults, and the Champaign Police Department is very concerned with the attacks that occurred in Champaign,” Acree said.

Though these high-profile crimes occurred during summer, the crime rate increases during the school year in Campustown due to the greater number of students on campus, Acree said.

Fighting, pick pocketing and strong arm robbery also increase during school months, especially when drinking is involved.

“With alcohol, comes fighting,” he said.

Acree suggests that students stay with friends while walking home late at night.

“When you walk home from the bars stay in a group, especially if you’ve had too much to drink,” said Acree.

“You’re more apt for something bad to happen if you’ve been drinking.”

There are a variety of safety options available to promote safety on campus.

These include using campus buses, calling MTD Safe Rides, and utilizing local cab companies.

Using judgment and staying alert are important to remaining safe on campus, said Acree.

“If something just doesn’t feel right to you, dial 911,” he said.

“Usually if something doesn’t feel right there is a reason. Pay attention to instincts.”