A 20-year-old female student was allegedly raped by possibly two assailants between midnight and 1:30 a.m. Saturday behind Ginger Hill Tavern according to the Pennsylvania State Police.
The victim was examined at a local hospital and released following the alleged assault.
The exact location of the incident has yet to be determined, and the case is still under investigation.
Police have viewed surveillance footage from the establishment and re-interviewed the victim. No new information has been released.
This is the second reported alleged sexual assault to have taken place near Ginger Hill this year. Last semester, two SRU students were charged with rape after an alleged incident that took place in an apartment right behind the establishment.
According to Trooper Ronald D. Kesten, community services officer, the state police don’t think that any alleged sexual assaults that have occurred in Slippery Rock are connected.
“We don’t have any evidence to believe it is linked with any other assaults that have occurred in recent times,” Kesten said.
Rita Abent, Executive Director of Public Relations, said that the rumors and media coverage associated with the incident were partly because of parent involvement.
“A parent called a news station because of rumors, so initial reports turned out to be false,” Abent said. “We want students to notify their parents, but it is important to report the truth so that everyone can be safe and aware of the situation.”
According to Abent, part of her responsibilities include keeping up to date with the State Police, because they are the agency of record. They are investigating the case and the university has to wait until new information is made available to them by the police before they can share it with the campus community.
Jodi Solito, Director of the Women’s Center, had no specific comment on the reported sexual assault itself, but did speak to the typical reaction people have to blame the university.
“I like to address the fact that there isn’t anything the university can do to protect students from these incidents because most of the time these incidents are committed by someone the victim knows, and in a private setting,” Solito said.
“Its not the typical thought with a stranger wielding a weapon,” Solito said, “That just isn’t how it happens.”
According to Solito, there is very little a person can do to prevent assault, and the goal of prevention should be to educate the perpetrator.
“When we talk about rape prevention, we talk to the men,” Solito said. “We call it risk reduction when we talk to women.”
According to Solito, while there isn’t anything the university can do, it is important to educate men as well as women.
“It’s about how we talk to the men about not committing these kinds of crimes, not about telling the women about what they can do to protect themselves,” Solito said.
“None of the ‘watch your drinks’ or ‘go in groups’ advice matters, because we shouldn’t be blaming women for their own assaults.”
Students campus-wide are beginning to bring the safety of SRU into question after two sexual assaults within a year.
Andrea Love, an accounting major, said that she doesn’t like having to worry about these things weather they happen on or off-campus.
“It just adds more worry for me and my family,” Love said. “I always make sure I walk in daylight or with a buddy at night.”
Public Health major Jenalee Shields said that she believes there have been a lot of similar incidents since she has been a student at SRU.
“I think people need to abide by the ‘safety in numbers’ rule and stick together regardless of where they are walking,” Shields said.
Shields also brought up another way to keep safe, instead of walking alone at night.
“I know the police have an escort service to take people back to their dorms safely, which I think is a really good idea,” Shields said.
The case is still under investigation, anyone with information is asked to call the Pennsylvania State Police at 724-284-8100.