UI student battered in apartment by man posing as maintenance worker


James Hoeck

Students were notified of an assault around 308 East Armory building on March 29. The offender claimed to be a maintenance worker and proceeded to enter the building, touching the student’s leg without consent.

By Willie Cui and Lilli Bresnahan

On Tuesday, March 29, a University student was assaulted in her apartment on the 300 block of East Armory Avenue by someone claiming to be a maintenance worker for Ameren.

Niki Sodetz, a junior in LAS, was in her apartment alone when there were three separate sets of knocks on her door. 

According to Sodetz, the man had said he was there for electricity and because Sodetz had put in a maintenance request a day earlier to change a light bulb, she allowed him into the apartment. 

She then went back into her room, closed the door behind her and had gotten under the covers of her bed. 

According to Sodetz, about 30 seconds later, the man knocked on her door and entered the room. 

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“He’d come in, closed the door behind him, and kneeled down by my bed and sort of reached out to give me a high five … and he had asked me like ‘Well, what’s wrong?” Sodetz said. “I had said something that’s like … ‘Oh, I’m tired.’ And that’s when he kind of starts to pat around on my leg.” 

Sodetz said she was frozen. She believed he was looking for something, but then he began to lift up the covers to look at her legs. 

“At that point … I thought he was going to sexually assault me,” Sodetz said. “He had lifted (the covers) up and put them back down … probably three times, and by the third time he had lifted them up … that’s when he began to touch my legs.”

Sodetz said this is when she had said to the man, something like, “What are you doing?”

“And he looks at me and says ‘Well you called me in here, you wanted this,’” Sodetz said. “He just looked so confused and kind of embarrassed to be honest that I had said that I was clearly uncomfortable and super upset and freaked out.”

After this, he quickly got up, closed the bedroom door behind him and left the apartment. 

“When I heard my front door close, I just began to cry,” Sodetz said. 

This incident followed a string of reports that someone claiming to work for Ameren knocked on the doors of residents and asked to see their electric bills, the University report said. 

The University of Illinois Police Department has not been able to verify whether the offender was actually an employee of Ameren, according to the report.

“The offender had left the area before officers could respond, and no arrest has been made at this time,” Joe Lamberson, interim assistant to the Champaign police chief said. “The investigation remains ongoing.”

UIPD recommends residents in the area to lock their doors and windows even while they’re there and not to allow anyone into their residence who they don’t know or whose identity they cannot verify. 


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Editor’s note: A previous version of this article mistakenly said the incident occurred at an apartment on the 300 block of West Armory Avenue. The apartment is in fact on the 300 block of East Armory Avenue. The Daily Illini regrets this error.