By Natasha Bhuyan
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Thursday, November 18, 2004
Police are continuing their investigation of an incident where a UA student was sexually abused in broad daylight outside her university-area townhouse Tuesday.
The incident, involving an 18-year-old student, occurred Tuesday at 2:50 p.m. as she walked through a breezeway near her complex along North Tyndall Avenue and East Adams Street, said Sgt. Marco Borboa, spokesman for the Tucson Police Department
Leila Samsam, the victim's friend and next-door neighbor, said the victim was walking back home from getting the mail when she heard footsteps behind her.
According to police, a man confronted the victim and inappropriately touched her in a manner police are referring to as sexual abuse.
Borboa said the victim then ran into the street and flagged down passing cars.
"We believe the victim did the right thing by drawing attention herself, which then caused him (the suspect) to run from the area," Borboa said.
Although police said the case is being aggressively investigated by TPD's sexual assault department, it would be incorrect to call the incident a sexual assault as this would imply an attempted rape.
"Sexual abuse by statute is the indirect or direct touching of another individual inappropriately in certain areas," said Borboa. "Either skin-to-skin contact or above the clothing."
Borboa said he could not provide further details and said the motives of the assailant are unknown.
But Samsam said the victim escaped the assault when the suspect began to unzip his pants.
"She got up and ran into the street," said Samsam, a psychology and molecular biology senior.
Borboa said people in the area were questioned, but no arrest was made.
The incident comes less than a week after a man was arrested in relation to a string of crimes and sexual assaults in the UA area.
Samsam said the attack was ironic because, just a week earlier, the female residents of the complex discussed the sexual assaults and decided to practice safety in numbers and put horns on their keychains.
However, Samsam said although the girls were worried about safety during the night, they did not consider taking precautions during the daytime.
"We were not even scared during the day," Samsam said, who would keep her door unlocked when she went to get the mail.
Samsam said the victim is frightened, but otherwise ok. Still, the incident is giving the female residents a heightened sense of awareness.
"People don't just start off as rapists - it escalates from masturbation, peeping ... so you constantly have to be aware of your surroundings," Samson said.
Samsam said the girls who lived in the townhouses saw suspicious males lurking outside their homes, but did not report it to the police as they did not think it was serious.
Borboa said it is important to report any suspicious activity because it affects the neighborhoods as a whole.
The police are investigating the incident and looking at other cases in the area that could possibly be related.
"We are absolutely terrified ... you kind of have to go about your daily life, but life is changing," Samsam said.
Holly Wells contributed to this report.