Student reports sexual assault on campus trails

Rachel Christian

A female student was no more than “2/10ths of a mile” into her run on the USI-Burdette Park Trail Aug. 26, when a white male in a black hoodie dragged her into the woods and sexually assaulted her, said Dave Wedding, Vanderburgh County sheriff.
According to the Public Safety crime log, the incident was reported at 2:05 p.m. Friday.
The university sent out a Rave Alert at 6:05 p.m. Friday, urging the campus community to check their email for an important crime alert notification. The email reported that the Office of Public Safety had become aware of the alleged sexual assault.Wedding said the alleged victim was running on the trail near Rochelle Lane between 10:45 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. when the incident occurred.

The student told the sheriff’s office she wasn’t sure what happened next because she lost consciousness during the assault. When she regained consciousness, her pants and underwear were pulled down and her attacker was nowhere in sight, Wedding said.

He did not comment on why the student waited until Friday — 24 days after the alleged attack — to report the incident.

The sheriff’s office will continue to work with USI to develop and pursue any new leads in the case, Wedding said, though it may be challenging.

“We don’t have any physical evidence to go off of,” Wedding said. “And from what we can tell, this is an isolated case.”

The student did not seek medical treatment at the time of the incident and did not report any physical injuries to the sheriff’s office, Wedding said.

There are currently no suspects in the case.

Public Safety Director Stephen Woodall said he doesn’t consider the trail unsafe.

“This is a very unusual case, but from what we can tell, it’s also isolated,” Woodall said. “I think the trails are still a safe place for students.”

Woodall advises students to navigate the trail safely by traveling with a friend. He also suggests students tell people where they’re going and take their cell phones with them.