Timely Warning: Sexual assault on campus still under investigation

Kate Hibbard
Staff Writer
khibbard@lhup.edu
By Kathleen Ellison
By Kathleen Ellison

Students, faculty and staff may remember receiving a timely warning from public safety on Aug. 22 that contained a chilling message: someone had been sexually assaulted in her dorm room and the assailant’s whereabouts were unknown.

Three days later, public safety issued a calming update that stated that the suspect had been found and “there is no longer a threat to the university community.”

According to Paul Altieri, director of public safety, the investigation is on-going and police are still gathering evidence.  Because of that, he couldn’t say what exactly lead police to the suspect.

“I really can’t talk about police procedures too much…how we find people,” Altieri said. We follow the leads people give us, look at video surveillance.”

Once found, the suspect was issued a no-trespass letter, meaning he has not been allowed anywhere on the university’s campus throughout the investigation, but could not yet be arrested.

Before an arrest can be made, police have to present enough evidence to the district attorney to get the go-ahead to produce an arrest warrant, and then have it signed by the county judge to make it legitimate.

If the DA denies that the evidence offers proof beyond a reasonable doubt, then police must begin the search again to find more, stronger evidence.

Chief Altieri can’t release the type of evidence needed for an arrest to be made and for good reason.

“It hinders our investigation,” Altieri explained. “If I told a criminal what type of evidence I was looking for, they might get rid of it.”

Likewise, Altieri cannot share any information or updates on the person who reported the assault.

According to Altieri, if the alleged assailant is officially arrested and the case goes to court, then more information will be made public.

Any further timely warnings issued, however, will no longer deal with this case. Timely warnings are issued in accordance with the Clery Act and are based on factors such as the nature of a crime, any continuing danger to the campus community and the possible risk of compromising law efforts.

They are not to be confused with emergency warnings, which are issued -usually via the phone system – in times of severe weather, gas leaks or other emergencies.

Students, faculty and staff are strongly encouraged to report any crimes or potential dangers to public safety and may do so by calling 570-484-2278.

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