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Auraria PD make arrest in recent groping incident

Understanding crimes on campuses

Auraria Campus Police released an image of the suspect.
Photo: courtesy of Auraria Campus Police

The Auraria Campus Police Department sent an email blast to students on Wednesday, Sept. 25 informing students that they were “investigating a fondling that occurred at approximately 4:45 pm.” According to Auraria Police Chief Michael Phibbs, “The suspect approached the victim on the second floor of the Cherry Creek building, asking about discussing God. The victim spoke to the suspect briefly. As the victim was leaving, they were hugged and groped by the suspect.” 

After reviewing the video footage and releasing a photo of the suspect, police were able to make an arrest on Sept. 26, 2019. No more information regarding the suspect or his identity was made available to the public. The victim’s identity was also kept private. 

 Since 1990, after the passage of The Clery Act, US colleges and universities have been required to report statistics on crimes on campus, as well as have detailed emergency alert systems in place. According to statistics from the U.S. Department of Education, the number of on-campus arrests at CU Denver has steadily decreased, from 89 arrests in 2015 to 59 arrests in 2017. Additionally, the Dept. Of Education data indicates that between 2015 and 2017 there were 17 other incidences of fondling, 9 reported rapes, and 12 reports of aggravated assault. 

 Violent crime continues to be a concern for college campuses across the country. According to RAINN, an anti-sexual violence advocacy group, “among undergraduate students, 23.1 percent of females and 5.4 percent of males experience rape or sexual assault through physical force, violence, or incapacitation.” 

 In an email to students, Police Chief Phibbs mentioned on-campus resources available to students who are victims of a crime or concerned about on-campus safety, including the Phoenix Center at Auraria (PCA), which provides resources to students affected by interpersonal violence, the Health Center at Auraria – Victim’s Assistance Program, and the NightRider service, an on-campus shuttle that transports students between buildings and parking lots at night. 

 The Sentry spoke with Katherine Miller, the Victim Services Coordinator at PCA about violence on college campuses. According to Miller, college students may be more vulnerable to violence because of certain demographic factors. 

“When we’re talking about relationship and sexual violence, you’re most vulnerable between age 18 and 24,” Miller said. She cited additional factors, including lack of sex education or an understanding of consent, that potentially make students more vulnerable to violence. 

 Miller said some students may be concerned about safety on the Auraria campus because of its location in a major city, saying, “We’re an open campus; we’re not in the middle of nowhere.” However, Miller added, “Theoretically, where we’re located doesn’t really matter in the grand scheme of things,” noting that two-thirds of cases of sexual violence are committed by someone the victim knows. 

 Miller concluded by highlighting the PCA is available to students concerned about campus safety and can be reached 24/7 through their hotline at 303-556-2255.   

More information about campus safety is available online through the Auraria PD at www.ahec.edu/safetytips, and the Phoenix Center, www.thepca.org. 

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