American University sexual assaults: Suspect is sought in series of fondling incidents

The assaults all took place near the American University campus. Photo: © 2008 by Chip Griffin, used under a Creative Commons Attribution license.

American University students are on alert after four separate reports of alleged sexual assault near the Northwest Washington campus since Sept. 24.

Campus officials have confirmed that four female students have reported incidents of "forcible fondling" to the school, all of which took place on Massachusetts Avenue near campus.

The school says that each of the four students who alleged assaults declined to file police reports, but the school did report the incidents to MPD detectives. A crime alert was subsequently sent out to the entire American University campus.

According to campus crime records, the assaults took place on Sept. 24, 28, 30 and Oct. 1. Each of the assaults either happened in the early morning or late night hours.

None of the assaults or their crime alerts have been posted to the American University public safety website, but the site does reference a similar incident that took place on Sept. 7. On that night, a student reported that she was grabbed by a man while walking along Massachusetts Avenue near Ward Circle.

American University student Kristianna George said, "I have a class that gets out at 10:40 at night...I usually walk back by myself. It's kind of freaky"

The suspect in that case, who is described as a white man who stood 6-foot-3 with a muscular build and a crew cut, quickly fled. There is no confirmation that the Sept. 7 assault is in any way connected to the most recent ones, but officials say that the description of the suspect in last week's incidents closely resembles this one, but the more recent victims say that the suspect was less than 6 feet tall, according to a campus memo.

An investigation into the alleged assaults continues. In the meantime, campus public safety officials have stepped up patrols across the campus.