published Saturday, December 3rd, 2011

UTC issues alert after sex assault

UTC's police department is investigating the school's sixth sex offense on campus since 2008.

As of Friday, the university's police department, in conjunction with Chattanooga police, were following several leads on a sexual assault on a 20-year-old female student in a UTC parking garage.

"We take crime on our campus very seriously," said UTC spokesman Chuck Cantrell. "We feel it's our responsibility to provide the safest possible campus we can."

The victim's name is not being released.

University of Tennessee at Chattanooga police responded Thursday about 9:30 p.m. to a report of an assault in the Fifth Street parking garage. Cantrell said it wasn't a rape but "a physical assault of a sexual nature."

Schools officials sent an email alert Friday morning, urging students and staffers to be on the lookout for a white male, college-age, between 6 feet and 6 feet 2 with shaggy sandy hair, a scraggly beard, a slender, athletic build and wearing a North Face style all-weather red jacket.

He escaped on foot and, as of Friday evening, had not been apprehended.

In 2008, UTC reported one sex offense on campus, which increased to three in 2009 and decreased to one again in 2010.

In 2009, an 18-year-old female UTC student reported an early morning sexual assault and rape to the Chattanooga Police Department after she arrived at a rape crisis center.

According to Times Free Press archives, it was the first reported rape on campus since 2007.

Cantrell said the police patrols have been stepped up on campus and UTC is in the process of hiring more police officers, but he didn't have the exact number or timeline.

In 2010, UTC reported 139 thefts, down from 164 the previous year. But the number of assaults increased from 20 to 24 during that same period, according to campus crime statistics.

In general, the campus is safe, Cantrell said.

"When something like this happens, it has been the exception," he said.

UTC is asking anyone with information on the assault suspect to call the campus police at 423-425-4357.

about Perla Trevizo...

Perla Trevizo joined the Chattanooga Times Free Press in 2007 and covers immigration/diversity issues and higher education. She holds a master’s degree in newswire journalism from Universidad Rey Juan Carlos in Madrid, Spain, and a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Texas. In 2011 she participated in the Bringing Home the World international reporting fellowship program sponsored by the International Center for Journalists, producing a series on Guatemalan immigrants for which she ...

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