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Student sexually assaulted

A student was hospitalized Wednesday after she was attacked in a West Campus dormitory bathroom at about 5:20 a.m., Duke University Police Department officials reported.

DUPD Maj. Robert Dean said when the woman entered the second-floor bathroom in Wannamaker Dormitory, she was grabbed by a young man who was already inside the bathroom. A struggle ensued, and the woman attempted to ward off her attacker with a penknife she kept on her keychain. The attacker grabbed away the penknife and cut the woman on the face, chest, arm and thigh, Dean said.

The man then allegedly tried to sexually assault the woman, but she was able to escape to her dorm room and call the police.

The woman was taken to the Duke Hospital emergency room and later released, Duke officials said.

The assailant was described as a white man, 18 to 25 years old, between 5'10" and 6' tall, with a stocky build and longish brown hair. He was wearing a red shirt and jeans.

All dormitory bathrooms are locked and only students with keys can open those locks. As a result of Wednesday's incident, University officials said they will meet with students this week about adding a second lock to bathroom doors so only women can access female bathrooms and only men have access to male bathrooms, said Vice President for Student Affairs Larry Moneta. A long-term solution they are now considering is requiring the use of DukeCards to electronically control bathroom locks, he said.

Moneta said he and DUPD Chief Clarence Birkhead have been analyzing other possible measures to improve safety, and will continue to do so.

Duke officials met with dorm residents late Wednesday night to discuss the incident. Police said no suspects had yet been identified, but that they would be meeting with many of the dorm's residents over the next week in search of information.

They added that police and security patrols will monitor the dorm hourly and other dorms on campus randomly until further notice. Moneta, who also attended the meeting, said he hoped that both East and West Campus dormitory bathrooms could have second locks added by Friday and that separate keys would be issued.

Anyone with information pertaining to the case can contact Duke Police at 684-4713.


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