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Woman reports sexual assault near VCU, by person she had just met

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Posted at 8:26 AM, Aug 26, 2016
and last updated 2016-08-26 08:26:33-04

RICHMOND, Va. –Police at Virginia Commonwealth University sent out a campus alert this week, following a sexual assault near campus.

A woman reported that she was sexually assaulted inside a residence in the 00 hundred block of South Morris Street.

Police said the survivor had recently met the suspect and that the incident is under investigation.

Police said that if a person is ever in a situation where they are unsure or scared, to call VCU Police (828-1234) immediately. Read more reminders about sexual assault, from police, here.

As VCU students move in for the start of a new academic year, administrators are prioritizing safety after a spike in crime near the Monroe Park Campus this summer.

Students are encouraged to download the LiveSafe mobile safety application on iOS and Android smart phones. The app alerts police when a tip comes in so they can respond quickly. Students also have 24-hour access to campus phones for emergency calls.

Crime uptick in the VCU area

Gunfire erupted near VCU’s Siegel Center in July followed by a triple shooting on West Broad Street and then a robbery in Monroe Park.

The crimes happened while many students were off for the summer.

But now students like Leoul Bekele are moving in.  Bekele is one of the record 4,200 freshman enrolled at Virginia Commonwealth University.

“I’m looking forward to the best four years of my life here,” Bekele said.

University officials said safety was key because VCU sits in an urban area where the homicide rate is reportedly on the rise.

“We want to make sure that they feel comfortable, they feel safe,” said Dr. Reuben Rodriguez, Assoc. Vice Provost, VCU Dean of Students.

When asked if the university was concerned about the city’s high murder rate, Rodriguez said VCU and the areas that surround it are very safe.

“We’ve got a great police force,” Rodriguez said. “Students can see police officers, security officers 24-7.”

Rodriguez said students go through a week-long orientation on safety measures and precautions.

“We teach them how to be good bystanders,” Rodriguez said. “Also, because we want them to take accountability not only for themselves, but also for one another.”