Police continue investigation of December assault

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Meadville Police Department is actively investigating an on-campus rape that was reported in Ravine-Narvik Hall last month. In a statement to The Campus, Meadville police said they’re still far from a conclusion on the case. 

“This is going to be a long investigation,” Assistant Chief Michael Stefanucci said. “I can tell you there was no suspect immediately identified in the case.”

Stefanucci said he could not confirm or deny whether or not Meadville police have a suspect at this time. 

According to a campus-wide email sent out around 5 a.m., the assault occurred at approximately 1:30 a.m. on Dec. 10, 2019, in Ravine Hall. The Office of Public Safety was informed of the incident at 3:30 a.m. The assailant was described as a man approximately 20 years old with light brown skin and more than 5 feet, 7 inches tall. The description also said the man had a handgun. 

Since the incident, Allegheny College has increased its safety protocols on campus. In a campus-wide email sent at 10:26 p.m. the day of the incident, President of the College Hilary Link said 24-hour public safety patrols had been increased and would remain increased through the end of the fall 2019 semester, and issues with on-campus doors and locks had been and will continue to be addressed. Residents of Ravine Hall were also checked on by staff members of Student Life, and available resources including counseling and academic support were communicated to students, parents and all members of the Allegheny community, the email read. 

Dean of Students April Thompson sent a campus-wide email on Jan. 8 regarding the safety and security of the Allegheny community. 

“I am writing to let you and your loved ones know of the many steps we have taken on campus to prepare the campus for (the students’) upcoming return and for the (Spring 2020) semester,” the email read.

The email listed 13 steps Allegheny administration has taken to further increase safety on campus. Among these steps are hiring safety and security consultants, installing alarms on “exterior doors” around campus, maintaining the increased security presence from last semester and installing new hardware on “interior residential doors” where needed, according to the email. 

“We’re working as close as we can with the college,” Stefanucci said. “The college is actively pursuing avenues to protect the students further in the wake of this incident — that’s something I can positively say.”

Regarding the on-going investigation, Stefanucci said Meadville police are still weighing evidence and developing leads. 

Since the incident, six reports have been logged on Allegheny’s daily crime log, and one filed at approximately noon on Dec. 18, 2019, was for the possession of weapons in Ravine Hall. William Merchbaker, interim director of public safety, said during a routine room check a resident adviser confiscated a machete-like weapon. Merchbaker said the weapons report was not related to the on-campus rape.