NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ—Amidst an increase in unsolved, violent, and seemingly random crimes against Rutgers University students, the Middlesex County Prosecutor's Office released a sketch this week of a possible suspect in one of the cases.
In the early morning hours of January 31, authorities say a man attacked a 24-year-old Rutgers student walking on Townsend Street, and sexually assaulted her.
"An investigation determined that the woman was walking on Townsend Street between Livingston and Joyce Kilmer avenues in New Brunswick when the man walked up to her, punched her in the face several times, improperly touched her and attempted to further sexually assault her."
According to the prosecutor's office, the victim screamed and kicked the attacker, who fled the scene. No arrests were made that night in the case.
Thirty-five hours later, the county prosecutor isssued a press release titled "Rutgers student attacked." However, the university did not issue a crime alert because the incident occurred about a dozen blocks from the main campus.
The release described the suspect as "a heavy-set, Hispanic male with a dark complexion, between the ages of 30 and 40, five-feet, eight-inches tall, with dark 'spiked' hair and no facial hair. He was wearing dark pants and a black, zippered hooded jacket."
Things were quiet in the investigation of the case, until this week.
Since that crime, several more Rutgers students have been randomly attacked including a 19-year-old female who told News 12 she was punched in the fact last weekend when a barfight spilled onto George Street.
And last month, William McCaw, a former Rutgers student who had recently transfered to another school, turned up dead in a backyard in a case where no arrests have been made and no suspects identified.
In the wake of the tragedy, an online petition garned some 2,000 signatures from parents, students, alumni, and neighborhood residents urging Rutgers to be more proactive and transparent.
On Monday night, the Wall Street Journal, the nation's most popular print newspaper, published an article detailing the growing feelings of fear on the campus and the lack of public information about the crimes.
That same night, ABC New York's Eyewitness News also aired a report on the growing controversy over campus safety.
The next morning, the county prosecutor's office released the suspect sketch in the five-week-old sexual assault case, leading some to question the timing of the announcement.
James O'Neill, a spokesman for the prosecutor's office, did not respond to questions from New Brunswick Today asking why the sketch took so long to be prepared and released publically.
The man being sought was last seen fleeing on foot along Townsend Street, towards Joyce Kilmer Avenue.
Anyone with information on the crime is asked to call Investigator James Kelly of the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office at (732) 745-3600, or Detective Ronoldy Martinez of the New Brunswick Police Department at (732) 745-5217.
Charlie is the founder and editor of New Brunswick Today, and the winner of the Awbrey Award for Community-Oriented Local Journalism. He is a proud Rutgers University journalism graduate and a community organizer, and an independent candidate for Mayor of New Brunswick.