erik oeverndiek/Daily Journal
Judy Buller, Ph.D., director of the communications program at Notre
Dame de Namur University in Belmont, examines a copy of the student
publication "The Argonaut" that had a front page story on a recent sexual assault cut out since the newspaper hit the racks Jan. 25.
Friends of a sexual assault victim at Notre Dame de Namur University in Belmont are suspected of cutting articles out of nearly 500 campus newspapers this week in an attempt to protect the woman’s identity.
A female was sexually assaulted in the early morning on Jan. 20. Alcohol was a factor in the case and police said nothing is known about the suspect. However, the victim is cooperating with police investigators. A public safety advisory issued by the NDNU chief of public safety said the victim was asleep in her residence hall room when the crime occurred.
A front page article about the sexual assault appeared on the front page of this week’s student newspaper, The Argonaut. The paper was distributed Thursday and sometime before Friday morning nearly 500 copies of the paper showed up with the article snipped out. The papers were apparently stolen, vandalized and returned to the display boxes, said Editor Emeritus Erik Oeverndiek.
Oeverndiek, who also works as a photographer for the Daily Journal, was alerted to the vandalized papers early Friday. Faculty alerted the Argonaut advisor Michelle Carter, who alerted the administration, Oeverndiek said.
Faculty is aware of the situation but don’t have an immediate plans to take action.
"The theory is it is one of the victim’s friends,” said university spokesman Robert Rossi.
Friends asked the newspaper not to publish an article about the assault earlier in the week for fear students on the small campus would figure out the woman’s identity. However, Oeverndiek would not speculate on who vandalized the papers and contacted the Student Press Law Center seeking legal advice.
There are approximately 500 students who live on campus and all of them were notified of the incident on Tuesday. The letter stated there was a sexual assault and reminded students to lock all doors, do not let strangers into the residence areas and report suspicious behavior. The letter also reminded students to be mindful of how alcohol affects decision-making ability.
Residents on campus Friday said they felt safe despite the weekend incident.
"I’ve never felt unsafe on campus,” said Liz, a senior who wished to keep her last name anonymous.
Saturday’s attack was the first sexual assault reported on campus this school year, according to crime statistics that the university is required by the Campus Crime Statistics Act of 1998 to make public.
The school has had only one other sexual assault since 2003, the first year statistics were readily available. That crime occurred during the 2005-06 school year, when a man entered a dorm room and fondled a sleeping student.
About 1,000 undergraduates and 800 graduate students attend the private Catholic university.
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