Possible UVa. sex assault: Student found unconscious at off-campus apartment

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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – University of Virginia police said that a female student may have been sexually assaulted over the weekend.

Officers said the woman was found unconscious at an apartment just off campus Sunday.

The student reportedly had no memory of what happened the night before after she was given drinks from a man she met online.

The victim was taken to the hospital.

Charlottesville police are investigating.

Here’s a message sent to the university from campus police:

On February 23, 2015, the University learned of a possible sexual assault involving a female student victim on February 22, 2015. The student, who was found unconscious at an apartment in the 100 block of Harmon Street, was taken to the UVA emergency room. She subsequently reported having no memory of several hours of the evening after being given drinks from a male she had met online. These symptoms, which involve a rapid onset of intoxication out of proportion to the amount of alcohol ingested, as well as reported memory loss, are consistent with the ingestion of predatory drugs that may be used to facilitate sexual assault. The Charlottesville Police were called to the hospital and took a report. The case is currently under investigation.

The University of Virginia shares this information to protect members of the University community by promoting safety, to help reduce the likelihood of future crimes, and to raise awareness of how to seek prompt assistance should a crime occur.

No action or inaction by a crime victim makes that person responsible for their victimization. Perpetrators are responsible for crimes and their effects. The following suggestions may help reduce the possibility of experiencing a crime, or may improve opportunities to receive prompt assistance.

  • The most common type of sexual assault is not by a stranger but by someone the victim knows.
  • Alcohol and drugs are often used to create vulnerability to sexual assault. Studies of sexual assault incidents show a high correlation between rape and drug/alcohol usage. Be alert to individuals pressuring you or others to use alcohol or other drugs.
  • If you engage in online activity to meet others, think about how to safely meet and interact with new people. Be cautious about sharing your full identity and personal information with individuals you do not know well.
  • If you are meeting someone for the first time, let your friends or family know where you are going and when you expect to be home. Consider meeting in public where others are present, using your own transportation or another safe means of transportation (i.e., a trusted friend, taxi, or Safe Ride if available), and arranging a check in with a friend when you are on your way home.
  • Trust your instincts. If you feel uneasy or sense something is wrong, do what you can to get to a safe place or call for assistance.
  • Never leave your drink (whether alcoholic or not) unattended.
  • Be wary of accepting drinks from people you do not know well. To be even more careful, make sure you open and pour your own drink.
  • Don’t share drinks with others.
  • Drugs that could potentially be mixed with drinks may dissolve quickly and may not have any distinct look, taste, or smell; so don’t turn your back on your beverage.
  • If you or a friend feel extremely drunk after drinking a small amount (of anything), you may have been drugged: get help immediately by calling 911.
  • If someone passes out, roll him/her onto their side with their knees bent to prevent choking in case they vomit, and monitor their breathing to be sure it is normal. Do not leave the person alone. Call 911 or seek immediate medical attention.
  • If a person’s breathing is irregular, or they are unresponsive or unable to be awakened, roll him/her onto their side with knees bent and call 911 immediately.
  • Be active in supporting a safe and respectful community. If you see others engaging in concerning activity, speak up and get involved, or contact someone who may assist.
  • If you have imminent concerns for the safety of others, call 911.

Victims of sexual assault have several reporting options:

  1. Report directly to law enforcement by calling 911.
  2. File a report through Just Report It, the University’s website for online reporting (which allows for anonymous reporting): http://www.virginia.edu/sexualviolence/sexualassault/reportingoptions/anonymous.html
  3. Contact the University’s Title IX Coordinator (434) 924-3200) or the Office of the Dean of Students (434) 924-7133) to file a report.
  4. Request to file a police report at the hospital if medical attention is sought through the UVA Emergency Department.

Victims of sexual assault are encouraged to take advantage of the many resources available and to encourage their use. Sources of support include the Office of the Dean of Students, the Women’s Center, Counseling and Psychological Services in Student Health, the Sexual Assault Resource Agency, and the Victim and Witness Assistance Programs. For more information, contact the Office of the Dean of Students by phone at 924-7133 or visit these websites: http://www.virginia.edu/sexualviolence or http://www.virginia.edu/uvapolice.

It’s up to all of us to put an end to sexual violence. Become an informed and effective bystander in the prevention of sexual assault. If you see something, intervene. Get involved! Find out how by visiting notonourgrounds.virginia.edu/hoosgotyourback.

Please take all necessary steps to protect yourself and each other – and know that you should never hesitate to call 911.

Michael A. Gibson — Chief, University Police

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