University and Philadelphia police are investigating a possible sexual assault against a female student early August 28 in the basement of the Veterinary Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. The 28-year-old Veterinary student was found lying semi-conscious, with her hands bound, on the floor near the women's locker room in VHUP between 7:30 and 8 a.m. August 28 by an exterminator under contract to the University, said Lt. Ken Coluzzi of the Philadelphia Police Department's Sex Crimes division. Though they had very little information, police said other students should not fear for their safety because of the incident, and that they could not confirm that an assault had definitely taken place. "Whatever happened was directed at this specific individual and was not any random action," Public Safety Managing Director Thomas Seamon said. Since the woman was found early last Wednesday morning, police have interviewed building contractors, school personnel and Veterinary School classmates to try to determine what actually happened in the basement locker room. "[The woman] remembers absolutely nothing," University Police Detective Tom King said. "It makes [the investigation] very difficult." The same student had reported another possible assault to University Police in May, and has reported some threats since then, Seamon said. University Police -- including the Victim Support unit --Eand the PPD's Sex Crimes division, as well as unspecified other law enforcement agencies, have been investigating that incident since May, and have been in close contact with the student, said Director of Police Operations Maureen Rush. The student was taken to Thomas Jefferson University Hospital August 28 and listed in good condition with minor bruises on her wrists and minor cuts, Coluzzi said. She was also tested for evidence of sexual assault, which Coluzzi called standard procedure in possible assault cases involving women. Hospital officials expected to release her on the night of August 28, and police would not say what the tests had revealed. Although police do not have a suspect in the assault, Coluzzi said they are investigating the possibility that the assailant is the same person involved in a similar incident last spring, when the same woman was found semi-conscious in a woman's bathroom of the Veterinary Hospital. "It would be strange that this would have happened to her twice by two different people," he said. "The possibility exists that it's the same person. The likelihood that it's two [assailants] is slim." After the first incident, the woman reported that she received threatening mail, an allegation that the FBI is investigating. The FBI refused to comment on the investigation, but a spokesperson explained that local police often take advantage of the agency's resources to help solve certain cases, including those involving threats. Since the incident, the Veterinary Hospital has drawn flak from critics claiming that lax security may have allowed an assailant to enter the building and assault the woman. But Spectaguard Assistant Vice President Gesi McAllister insisted that the hospital's security is adequate, noting that all after-hours visitors are supposed to have their identification checked by a guard at the main entrance, while another guard roams the hospital. The incident and a report in the Philadelphia Daily News claiming that just about anyone could enter the building without being questioned have led Spectaguard to change its policy so that building visitors must now be questioned at all times of day, McAllister said. Daily Pennsylvanian staff writer Ian Rosenblum contributed to this article.Comments powered by Disqus
Please note All comments are eligible for publication in The Daily Pennsylvanian.