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Emily Welker, Published March 25 2013

Woman reports masked man grabbed her on NDSU campus, sexually assaulted her

FARGO – A woman told North Dakota State University police she was forced into a vehicle Sunday night and sexually assaulted.

NDSU police Lt. Greg Stone said a female victim said she was approached by a man in a blue ski mask at the HR Parking Lot at around 8:30 p.m. The woman reported the man forced her into a large passenger vehicle, drove to another location, sexually assaulted her and drove her back to the parking lot.

No suspect vehicle was given, nor did she report her attacker used a weapon.

University officials sent an email to NDSU students and employees about 2:16 a.m. informing them of the reported sexual assault.

In a news conference on Monday, Stone and Dean of Student Life Janna Stoskopf would not say why the university believed that the campus community was not under an immediate or continued threat.

They also would not say whether they’re working with other local law enforcement agencies to get a lead on a suspect, saying it was part of their ongoing investigation.

Stone said if they receive more information about the car or the suspect, they will release it to the public.

Students at the Memorial Union on Monday said they were surprised by the report.

“It’s pretty unusual,” said senior BriAnn Hoefer. “Normally I’m always with friends, so I’m not afraid walking around here at all. I guess I’ll bring it up to my roommates.”

Chelsea Black, another NDSU student, said she had yet to hear of the reported assault as of mid-afternoon.

“I would never even think anything bad would happen here,” she said. “There’s always police walking around. It’s alarming – I’ll probably try to walk with other people.”

Stoskopf said the number of sexual assaults reported on campus in the last three years has doubled. However, she attributed increased reports to the university adding a staffer dedicated to sexual assault prevention programs on campus.

In 2012, a total of nine forcible sex offenses were reported on the campus – three to NDSU police and six to Sarah Dodd, the assistant director of sexual assault prevention programs, according to NDSU police statistics.

Stoskopf said on-campus lighting is checked yearly for dark spots, and the 21 emergency alert boxes stationed all over campus are all in working order, as far as she knew.

Police are asking anyone with more information to call NDSU police at (701) 231-8998, or call or text the NDSU police tip line at (701) 526-6006. Tips can also be emailed to ndsu.police.safety@ndsu.edu.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Emily Welker at (701) 241-5541