Student Voice

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June 20, 2024

RF student attacked on campus

November 16, 2006

A UW-River Falls student was the victim of a sexual battery at 11:30 p.m. Nov. 9 on the Blue Stem Pathway -- the most direct route from the Ramer Field parking lot to the main campus.

The female student was walking to campus near the nursery plot shed when an individual jumped out of a nearby wooded area and attacked her from behind, according to UWRF Public Safety reports.

While no physical penetration occurred, the incident has been categorized as a sexual battery because “sexual attempts” were made — including efforts to remove the woman’s clothing, Public Safety Director Mark Kimball said. 

The unidentified perpetrator pinned the student down on the ground before apparently hearing a noise and running away, according to reports. There are no signs suggesting a weapon was used.

There is no description available of the perpetrator, who remained behind the victim at all times. However, statements from the victim indicate that the individual is male.

Public Safety was notified of the incident early Friday morning after the victim was encouraged by family members to report the attack.

While this recent incident is daunting, sexual assaults at UWRF are very rare.

According to the 2006-2007 Annual Crime Report, one forcible sexual offense took place in a residence hall each year for 2003-2005, and one forcible sexual offense was reported on campus in 2005.

“That’s relatively typical of what we’ve seen here,” Kimball said of past trends.

Yet these numbers include only incidents that were reported. Many attacks go unreported due to guilt and shame that victims often experience, he said.

“The same thing may have happened to someone else in the same spot, but we wouldn’t know,” Kimball said. “We want people to come forward because if there is a pattern, we need to stop it.”

UWRF Personal Counselor Gretchen Link said Counseling Services actually receives about five to 10 reports of sexual incidents each academic year, though the time and location of the events vary.

“Our role in counseling is to provide them with their options, and to help process the trauma,” Link said. “Most people don’t want to prosecute — they feel like they’re re-victimized.”

With no leads on the case, Public Safety and the River Falls Police Department are now encouraging the campus community to take precautions in the evening hours.

“You never can assume that any area is safe,” Kimball said. “I was out in that area [Blue Stem Pathway] this fall looking to see how light it was, and it is relatively well lit.”

He suggests that all students — both males and females — travel the campus in pairs during the evening hours. If that’s not possible, Public Safety can be contacted at 425-3133 for a safe escort at any time.

The Sigma Tau Gamma Fraternity sponsors SAFEWALK, a program that makes fraternity members available for on-campus escorts Sunday through Thursday until 11 p.m. Outside of those hours, Public Safety officers carry out the service.

“Whenever they’re not on duty, we are,” Kimball said.

Call boxes with blue lights are also in place around campus.

At this point, the investigation has been turned over to the RFPD.

“It’s kind of a cold case,” Kimball said. “This case will remain open — basically until we have a suspect.”

Any information regarding the incident should be directed to the River Falls Police Department at 425-0909.

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