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NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ—Three different law enforcement agencies are investigating a violent incident on the flagship campus of Rutgers University, according to a pair of crime alerts issued by Rutgers University Police Department (RUPD).
According to the alerts, a Rutgers-affiliated woman was the victim of an “aggravated assult” on May 4 at about 3:30am in the area of Van Dyck Hall, located on the campus’ main academic quad: Voorhees Mall.
The scene of the crime is near the intersection of College Avenue and Seminary Place, just a few dozen feet from the site of a massive public-private construction project sponsored by the university.
“Further investigation has revealed that this assault was committed during an attempted sexual assault,” reads the alert. “In this incident the victim… was walking in the area of Van Dyke Hall located at 520 George Street when she was assaulted by a male perpetrator who struck her in the face.”
“The victim then yelled for assistance which alerted nearby witnesses,” the alert continues. “The perpetrator then fled on foot towards Seminary Place. The victim was transported to a local area hospital for treatment of non-life threatening injuries.”
The first alert said the description was limited, while the second described the perpetrator as “a black male, 30 to 40 years old, approximately 6’2″ tall, approximately 200 pounds, with dark hair, wearing black baggy pants, work boots, and a grey zip up hooded sweatshirt.”
Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office (MCPO) and New Brunswick Police Department (NBPD) are also involved in the investigation.
The MCPO issued a five-sentence press release on May 5, titled “Suspect sought in attack of student,” and asked anyone with information about the crime to call RUPD Detective Sgt. Carlos Rodriguez at (848) 932-8025, or MCPO Detective George Stilwell at (732) 745-8675.
However, the MCPO, apparently still bitter from NBToday’s coverage of the Scott Campion scandal, did not send the press release to this newspaper, having removed all our reporters from their media list in February.
The violent incident also marked the first time in history that the city’s police department used its Nixle emergency alert system to alert the public of a crime.
By contrast, it was the ninth time that RUPD did the same since January 1, mostly for incidents that occurred in New Brunswick.
NBPD Captain JT Miller contends that the use of the Nixle system in relation to the May 4 attack did not represent a change in department policy and that his agency always alerts the public when there is a threat to public safety.
In the past, New Brunswick Today has highlighted a number of unsolved violent crimes, including daytime drive-by shootings in residential neighborhoods, that went by without public notification from any law enforcement agency.
Miller declined to speak about the incident in question, referring questions to MCPO and RUPD.
“The New Brunswick Police Department is not the lead agency in this investigation,” said Miller in response to a request for information under the state’s Open Public Records Act (OPRA).
Despite receiving the same May 4 request which requires a response “within 24 hours or as soon as practicable,” the MCPO has not yet responded to NBT, in an apparent violation of the OPRA law.
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, a community organizer, and a former independent candidate for mayor of New Brunswick.