Two men follow, harrass student on Petaluma campus

Kelsey Matzen, Staff Writer

A female student on her way to class was verbally assaulted and sexually harassed by two unidentified men on the Santa Rosa Junior College Petaluma Campus Sept. 10.

The victim was walking along Sonoma Mountain Parkway around 6 p.m. when she heard a whistle, which she ignored. She continued walking along Academic Drive and heard a male voice call to her. She looked around and saw two men getting out of their vehicle and walking toward her. She quickened her pace, and one yelled “Hey!” to her again, louder and more aggressively. The man who had yelled then ran up to within five feet of her and unzipped his shorts, pulling them down to expose his boxers to her.

The victim sought help from another female student, telling her what had happened. At this point, the two men got back into their white sedan and drove away. According to the police report, the victim was afraid.

The victim didn’t report the incident to District Police until Sept. 18 when her friends convinced her it was a story that needed to be shared. The case was immediately closed and filed away under “suspicious circumstances.”

Bert Epstein, the assistant director of Student Health Services, said people have a tendency to blame themselves for being targeted. “I think, unfortunately, our society gives people messages that things that happen to them are due to their own fault,” he said “Another reason why someone might delay or not report an incident of sexual harassment is because they don’t trust authorities to properly deal with it.”

This incident follows a previous investigation into the District Police, for their lack of presence on the Petaluma Campus.

Sgt. Robert Brownlee, of SRJC District Police, said the incident involved “suspicious circumstances” not “sexual harassment” as defined by the school’s disciplinary policy. He believes these men were not students based on their baggy t-shirts and pants, which appeared to be “gang-affiliated.”

“If these two men had been students, it definitely would have been sexual harassment,” Brownlee said. “If these had been students, we would have done our investigation up until the point of identifying this as sexual harassment, then handed the case over to student discipline.”

According to Brownlee, the school deals with inappropriate comments and gestures. “If there had been touching, it would have crossed the threshold into a police matter.”