Delivering American University's news and views since 1925. | Friday, February 22, 2019

In support of the woman sexually assaulted by man posing as Uber driver

We applaud the University’s quick communication about the crime

In support of the woman sexually assaulted by man posing as Uber driver

Police say the assault took place near the Asbury building. 

Safety at American University is a cherished and sacred right to all of its students. That includes the safety to explore your curiosities, pursue an education, experience the city and to do so without fear of being harassed, endangered or assaulted by any means.

Recently, that right was violated.

El houcine Jourhdaly, masquerading as an Uber driver, picked up a man and woman outside a Dupont Circle bar early on Sunday, Nov. 19. The offender took advantage of their inebriated state and kicked the male student out of the vehicle. He later sexually assault the second student outside the Asbury building. The offender, who Uber removed in 2015, kept an Uber sticker on his car window.

The woman first reported the crime to the Metropolitan Police Department, who then reported it to AU Public Safety. MPD has now arrested and charged El houcine Jourhdaly, of Springfield, Virginia, with one count of first-degree sexual abuse and kidnapping.

The Eagle staff finds the offender’s actions deplorable and reprehensible. However, we applaud AU police for its handling of the assault. Public safety publicized the incident in a written statement to the public the same day as the assault.

These acts of transparency should be the standard for the University moving forward. For any incident in the future, students deserve this information so they can take precautions to protect their own safety.

However, The Eagle acknowledges there is never an excuse for assault of any kind. Sexual violence is a heinous act. Fault lies solely with the assailant.

Given that predators cannot always be avoided, we encourage students to be mindful of their surroundings. Students should verify that they are actually getting into an official, authorized vehicle when using vehicle for hire services like Lyft and Uber. We must always be careful and practice proactive safety for ourselves and those around us.

The University also offers some options. Through the AU Guardian app, Public Safety can be alerted of any emergency at any time of day. Students also have the option of receiving a free escort to and from any university-owned property should they ever feel uncomfortable walking alone. Escorts can be requested by calling the University Police communications center at 202 885-2527. Self defense classes are also offered for free to students.

The Eagle is resolute in its support for the security of the student body. To report any incident to campus police, please call 202-885-3636.


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