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University of Utah rape investigation suspended for lack of evidence

Published December 6, 2016 10:03 pm

Safety • Cops say they are not closing the case, but are awaiting additional information.
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University of Utah police have suspended an investigation into a rape that allegedly occurred Oct. 31 in a campus parking lot.

A woman, who is a student at the U., told police that she was attacked by a man who wore a Grim Reaper-style mask, held her at gunpoint and raped her in her car, which was parked in a lot near the Merrill Engineering Building midday. She described the man as wearing all black and standing about 6 feet tall; she said he left on foot after the alleged assault.

But after "process[ing] evidence from the scene," "review[ing] footage from multiple area cameras," "interview[ing] the owners of hundreds of vehicles parked in the lot on that day" and "spen[ding] hundreds of hours on the report," Chief Dale Brophy said no leads emerged and there was not evidence consistent with the reported rape, according to a Tuesday email sent to students from U. President David Pershing.

"We are not able to find evidence that a crime occurred at the place, date and time reported," Brophy added. "We are not closing this case; we are suspending it until more evidence becomes available or until someone comes forward with additional information."

Pershing told students that it is "frustrating" for police and "for all of us" when authorities are unable to find a clear resolution in a case like this, but he added that the case has increased the university's resolve to provide a safe space for students.

"All of us — administrators, faculty, police, staff, counselors and friends — must keep listening and responding to concerns," he said. The university, he said, is awaiting recommendations from a task force on how to strengthen campus safety, convey intolerance for harassment, emphasize the importance of consent and support those who have experienced trauma.

He also noted that campus forums are available for students, faculty and staff to ask questions and voice concerns.

Additionally the university is installing cameras at the Merrill Engineering Building parking lot, replacing broken lights and adding new ones in dark areas in an increased effort to make the campus safe, he said. It has also increased police patrol in parking lots, according to a Nov. 1 news release from U. police.


Twitter: @mnoblenews




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