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Thursday, May 23, 2024
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BREAKING: University identified and removed person of interest from campus in Leonard Hall sexual assault investigation

University implementing recommendations for promoting campus safety

Editor’s note: This story contains references to sexual assault. Please see the bottom of this story for additional resources. 

The American University Police Department identified a person who posed “a threat to safety” connected to the break-in and sexual assault that occurred in Leonard Hall on Oct. 31, 2022, according to a community-wide email Thursday from University vice presidents Sarah Baldassaro, Bronté Burleigh-Jones and Raymond Ou.

The administrators said the person, identified in the email only as “an AU community member,” was removed from campus by AUPD following its investigation last academic year. In an email to The Eagle, Elizabeth Deal, the assistant vice president for community and internal communication, declined to “provide any additional specific details about an ongoing investigation.”

The email was sent out one day before a second on-campus protest against sexual violence. The walkout comes exactly one year after hundreds of students left class to protest what organizers described as the University’s inaction against sexual violence.

In the email, Baldassaro, Burleigh-Jones and Ou wrote that the University is implementing or has implemented some of more than 40 recommendations it received from community members in the wake of the incident.

AU is working to adopt a sexual assault survivors’ bill of rights as University policy, after the Undergraduate Senate passed a resolution urging the administration to do so. The Senate resolution proposed a bill of rights modeled after a similar one from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. The University intends on “sharing the document with the community this academic year,” the email said.

The University also said it is distributing education resources to students during required in-person Empower AU sessions during All-American Welcome. Students received QR code stickers to be placed on One Cards to access Victim Advocacy Services. These QR codes will be printed directly on One Cards starting next year. 

Student Government and the Office of Equity and Title IX recently hosted “What’s the Tea,” where students were given the opportunity to speak with University leaders who answered questions and provided insight on “efforts to address and respond to sexual assault and harassment.”

Baldassaro, Burleigh-Jones and Ou said the University is currently searching for a second victim services advocate. Victim services advocates offer confidential support and education for students affected by sexual violence, dating or domestic violence and stalking. The University has had only one advocate since at least 2019, according to the Center for Well-Being Programs and Psychological Services’ website.

AU will begin participating in NASPA’s Culture of Respect program in January. The University is looking for representatives to join the companion community advisory group in fall 2024.

Students who have experienced sexual assault or harassment can seek support through confidential resources such as University’s Center for Well-Being Programs and Psychological Services, the Student Health Center or the following hotlines:

Collegiate Assistance Program: 1-855-678-8679

Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN) anonymous chat

RAINN hotline: 1-800-656-4673

DC Rape Crisis Center: 202-333-7273

Other resources include:

It’s On Us

Know Your IX

End Rape on Campus

Non-confidential resources include the University’s Office of Equity and Title IX and AUPD.

This article was edited by Tyler Davis, Jordan Young and Abigail Pritchard. Copy editing done by Isabelle Kravis. 

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