IU Bloomington campus on alert after report of sexual assault

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Indiana University students are looking over their shoulders and campus police are looking for a man who sexually assaulted a student outside his dorm. The victim, a 19-year-old man, told police he was out at 5:00 am Thursday morning, moving his car to avoid getting a parking ticket.

The attack occurred in the parking lot of Eigenmann residence hall on the east side of the Bloomington campus. The victim says his attacker walked up and asked a question about the dorm.

IU Police Chief Keith Cash described what happened next.

"When [the student] responded, the unknown male grabbed his head, slammed it against the car, put a knife to his throat and the male was sexually assaulted," said the police chief.

The student called police. His attacker ran off before they arrived. Police searched several blocks around the dorm, but didn't find anyone matching the suspect's description. That could change.

"We plan on re-interviewing him, trying to get a composite out as soon as we can when he give us a call to get back with him," said Cash.

Across the Bloomington campus, IU students woke up to crime alerts and safety warnings flashed to their smart phones and computers.

"It made me nervous that it happened right beside my dorm, but I was also concerned because that could happen to anybody," said freshman Langston Blair.

Kyle Hardwick, a muscular and fit-looking freshman, called the crime unnerving.

"Weapons can equalize a fight very quickly. That fact that a knife was involved unnerved me," he explained.

Students who say they've become accustomed to IU's frequent warnings to look out for their own personal safety were taken aback as well.

The crime, its brutality and victim, a man, are extraordinary.

Ryan Felt is a senior who works in the residence hall and lives nearby.

"I was alone walking past two in the morning."

And when he saw the alert?

"That definitely changes going forward." Felt says "going forward," he won't be going out late alone any more.

Megan Forgey says she won't be either. "I was thinking about tonight, because I am going to a study session until 10:30. I am planning who I am going to walk home with."

The freshman quickly enrolled in the IU safety alert system.

Extra police patrolled around Eigenmann Hall Thursday night.

"(The) parking lot is usually the most isolated part of Eigemann, so that's probably the worst spot to be in at that time," said freshman Pranav Mirchandni, who lives in Eigenmann Hall.

IU Police have only a vague description of the attacker: A black male, 6'2", with long hair, 22-30 years old.

This is the third reported attack since the school year began. According to police, the first two happened in early September. A female student reported she was raped by a man who gave her a ride home from a bar. Another student said she was attacked while walking home, but got away using mace.

"You never think its going to be you, but then it really could be you," said Taylor Harmon of the wake up call the attack had given her.

Hours after the alleged assault, dispatchers at the university's Safety Escort Service couldn't yet tell if they were getting more calls for free rides because more students were taking extra precautions.

"If people are out late studying or working they can call in and talk to us and we can get them a safe ride back to their house," said student dispatcher Emily Hake of the service.

Students said they'd use the service if they felt unsafe, but many said they take precautions already.

"Always take my roommate with me or someone that I know," said freshman Taylor Leek.

"I try not to go out late with out anyone with me," added Mirchandni.

Still, said some, if an attacker had a weapon, like this latest one allegedly did, that could make all the difference.

"It doesn't take a big guy to get taken down by a little guy with a gun or a knife," said Blair.

Police have taken the opportunity from this latest alleged incident to remind students to travel at least in pairs, stay in well lit areas, carry a cell phone and always let someone know where they are headed and let someone know when they arrive.

The victim in Thursday morning's reported assault was treated and released from the hospital. Investigators hope that security cameras in the area can provide them with a better description and more clues leading them to an arrest. If you saw anything or have any information about this attack, you are asked to call IU Police.