BOONE — The Appalachian State Police Department is searching for an unidentified suspect in a sexual assault case reported on Nov. 4.
App State Police issued a campus alert the day the incident was reported, stating the incident reportedly occurred at approximately 1:15 a.m. on Nov. 1. The report was made by a campus security authority when a female student disclosed that she was sexually assaulted by an unknown male in a restroom at East Residence Hall, according to the alert.
App State Police Chief Andy Stephenson stated that this means that the report was made to a university staff members, not directly to the police department. A person who knows the alleged victim reported it to a university staff member, and the staff member reported it to campus police.
According to Stephenson, the alleged victim did not want a police investigation conducted. However, he said that since the alleged suspect is an unknown person, it poses a potential threat to the university community, and therefore it issued the alert.
The student described the suspect as a white male, approximately 5-foot-11 to 6 feet tall with brown hair. She stated the suspect spoke with a deep voice and was possibly wearing a white shirt.
“The university is providing resources and support to assist the student who reported this incident, and we will continue to take actions to maintain the safety and security of the campus community,” the alert stated.
Anyone with information regarding this crime, or any other crime, is encouraged to call the Appalachian Police Department at (828) 262-2150. You may also report crime tips anonymously by visiting police.appstate.edu/crime-tip-submission-form.
In the last 60 days, seven sex offenses — ranging from sexual battery by fondling to rape — have been reported on App State’s campus, according to the university crime log. Other than the incident in which the alert was issued, Stephenson said there are no other sexual assault investigations that are open.
“If we’re not putting out an alert to the campus community, that means there’s no ongoing threat to anyone on campus,” Stephenson said. “The alleged victim in these cases (often) knows who is involved and who the suspect is, but they don’t want to do anything. It’s an acquaintance-type situation.”
Stephenson added that the majority of the sex offense cases are reports made by students to a staff member who then alerts police. The bulk of the alleged victims of the reports typically do not want the the incident investigated and do not pursue criminal charges, he said.
Even if a report is brought to police by a staff member and the alleged victims don’t want a police investigation, the incident is still listed on the crime log, according to Stephenson.
For information promoting safety and aids in the prevention of similar incidents, visit appcares.appstate.edu/tips. Helpful resources available both on and off campus can be found by visiting ipv.appstate.edu.
“If you, or someone you know, has experienced interpersonal violence, you are not alone and we are here to help,” stated the alert.
Information regarding the Clery Act and why these alerts are issued to students can be found by visiting police.appstate.edu/sites/police.appstate.edu/files/campus-security-and-fire-safety-report-2019-.pdf.