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University of Utah Police investigating sexual assault

Victim is a minor who is not affiliated with the university, police say
Posted at 5:27 AM, Feb 04, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-04 18:28:23-05

SALT LAKE CITY — University of Utah Police officers are investigating a sexual assault case involving a minor that was reported to have occurred Wednesday night.

According to an alert from the university, the victim told police the assault occurred between 8:30 and 9:30 p.m. Officials say the victim is not a student at the university.

University of Utah Police investigating sexual assault of a minor

Police said the assault was first reported to them shortly after midnight, and the university sent a campus alert about the incident at 2:44 a.m. The victim first reported the assault to a University of Utah Health worker, and police said this explains the hours-long delay between the time of the crime and the time it was reported to police.

"The victim was on their way to meet someone on campus and reported that two unidentified males approached from behind a dumpster and proceeded to sexually assault the victim," the alert states.

Police said university crisis support specialists are working with the victim, who is a minor and is not affiliated with the university.

No description of either person of interest was immediately available.

"It is really a feeling of 'not this again,' and one thing we've been talking about for a really long time through our organization is the fact that we have rising rates of sexual assault and stalking on our campus," said grad student Devon Cantwell, a member of Unsafe U.

Despite the victim not having any affiliation with the university, campus police will lead the investigation into the assault.

The university provided the following safety tips and resources:

Prevention and Safety Tips: This safety warning is being issued as part of the University of Utah’s efforts to provide timely notifications about serious or ongoing threats to the campus community. While it may be distressing to learn about this incident, it is being shared so you can best protect yourself. Responsibility for a crime lies with the person committing it; however, there are some things you can do to reduce your risk of experiencing crime. Please remember:
  • If you or someone you know is a victim of interpersonal violence, call the LINK line at 1-800-897-LINK (5465) or visit the Center for Excellence in Women’s Health website.
  • Consent is required for all sexual interactions. Consent cannot be granted if a person is under the influence of alcohol, coerced, or under duress or force. If you are unsure if a person wants to engage in sexual behavior, DO NOT DO IT.
  • Coercion includes “wearing a person down” until they say yes. This is not consent.
  • The vast majority of sexual assault occurs between two people who know each other. Usually victims of sexual assault know, and sometimes trust, the person who hurt them.
  • If you notice one of your friends ignoring another person’s boundaries, remove your friend from the situation and tell them their behavior is not OK.
  • If you’re meeting someone new, let others know when and where you’re meeting and plan to meet in a public setting. Trust your gut if anything feels off.
  • Use the U’s SafeRide program or a courtesy escort (main campus: 801-585-2677; University Hospital: 801-581-2294) to get around campus.
  • Let a family member or friend know when you’re going somewhere and your estimated time of arrival or return. This allows them to notify police as quickly as possible if there is a problem.
  • If you feel uneasy, leave the area. Go to a safe location and notify University Police at 801-585-2677, or in case of an emergency, dial 911.
  • Take care of one another and consider stopping and being present until help arrives in situations where someone may be experiencing harm. The person causing harm may stop if other people are around.
  • Report any suspicious activities to University Police at 801-585-2677. Be prepared to provide as many details as possible.
  • Be aware of your surroundings and avoid distractions, especially when walking alone. Try to avoid isolated or dark areas. Walk in groups whenever you can—there is safety in numbers.
  • If a person approaches you in a way that makes you uncomfortable, maintain a distance and be observant; if they are in a vehicle, get the license plate number, make, model, color, and any additional identifiers, such as damage to the vehicle and direction of flight, if possible.

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