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Second assault reported

Less than 36 hours after a student was reportedly raped on West Campus by an unknown assailant, another forcible sexual assault was reportedly committed by a Central Campus intruder early Sunday morning. Police consider the assaults to be unrelated at this time.

The first incident involved a 21-year-old woman who was returning home from a party Friday night at around 10:15 p.m. A man ambushed her from behind and reportedly raped her in the wooded area between Edens Quadrangle and Wannamaker Drive. The woman returned home after the incident and was taken to the Duke University Medical Center and released.

Duke University Police Department Chief Clarence Birkhead said he had no information about the suspect's identity other than the fact that he is male, but officers were "doing some knock and talk" around the area of the reported rape to accumulate information about the incident.

The second incident occurred at about 6 a.m. Sunday morning. According to a police report, a man entered an unlocked Central Campus apartment at 1913 Erwin Rd. that was occupied by three women. As one woman described the incident, she was asleep inside her bedroom when she heard her door open and saw a man standing in her doorway. The man immediately fled, taking with him another woman's Canon SD100 Power Shot Digital Camera, serial number 7023521104. The first woman did not realize her roommate had been assaulted until 12:30 p.m. that day.

The intruder was described as a 5-foot-8, 150-pound white male in his early 20s with short, wavy brown hair, dark eyes and medium build. He was reportedly wearing a wrist watch, a dark blue hooded sweatshirt and possibly shorts. The man is wanted for first-degree burglary, second-degree forcible sexual assault and larceny. Officials would not comment as to whether the alleged assailant was a student.

The exact nature of the sexual offense is unclear. By way of explanation, DUPD Maj. Phyllis Cooper said only, "The [charge of] sexual assault was because the victim was touched." The victim was unhurt in the incident and has received counsel from the Women's Center, officials said.

Some concern has arisen from the University community about the administration's failure to notify students about the first assault Friday and then the burglary and assault Sunday. Vice President for Student Affairs Larry Moneta said he intended to send an e-mail to all students notifying them of the incidents, but wanted to make sure he had all the facts straight first.

"[There was] not sufficient information to share in a broadcast e-mail," he said. "In some ways, rushed information that's inaccurate is worse [than no information]."

It is unclear what the administration's next steps will be. Birkhead said security will not be increased because the DUPD is "already at a heightened alert." Although the reported West Campus rape took place within yards of a blue light emergency phone, which was not used, Moneta said it is too early to say whether the phones will remain a part of safety strategy at the University.

Moneta said he is concerned, upset and angry, but lacks solutions at this time. "There's no quick fix," he said. "We will once again review all of our security coverage, we will once again review all of the technology we can, but it's a difficult situation to resolve."

As for the assault victims, Moneta said they are doing reasonably well as far as he knows. He said he does not know if the students will remain at the University this semester.

Kelly Rohrs contributed to this story.


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