JoshuOne Barnes/ Oak Leaf
A female Santa Rosa Junior College student told campus police that a masked man raped her in Barnett Hall’s women’s restroom on the Santa Rosa campus at approximately 9 p.m. Aug. 20, district police said.
Medical personnel informed campus police of the incident Aug. 25 on the victim’s behalf, according to district police.
District police immediately notified and transferred leadership of the case to Santa Rosa Police Department’s Domestic Violence Sexual Assault (DVSA) detectives, according to their report.
The victim said the suspect confronted her as she entered the restroom, forced her against a wall and sexually assaulted her. He then fled in an unknown direction, according to her testimony.
The victim described the suspect as male and potentially white with a stocky build and around 5 feet 10 inches. She said he wore a black beanie type mask, a long sleeve black t-shirt and black pants. This was the extent of information she could render at the time.
Interim SRJC Police Chief Robert Brownlee said, “These types of incidents are rare.”
Brownlee said his department is working in collaboration with SRPD, which he said is heading the investigation because their resources are appropriately suited for a case of this magnitude. “In Sonoma County law enforcement, in general we work in partnership,” he said. “We are in close communication with SRPD.”
Authorities are still searching for potential suspects.
In the wake of this incident Brownlee said district police will expand their evening surveillance. “For the time being we are going to beef up our night patrol.”
Brownlee said he spoke with the SRPD detective in charge of this investigation the night of Aug. 25 and said there are no new developments in the case to his knowledge.
“We’re a community and we have to respond to this like a community,” Brownlee said.
Brownlee implored all students to report suspicious activity to the campus police.
SRJC student President Joshua Pinaula expressed his alarm and concern regarding the incident.
“I feel horrible. The SGA [Student Government Assembly] is going to meet to figure out how to effectively campaign against sexual assault and help students feel safe,” Pinaula said.
He added that the student health branch of the SGA is creating a sexual assault awareness initiative with emphasis on reporting incidents and protecting those with information. “I feel ashamed as well; we need more cameras in public areas,” he said.
“We are going to do everything we can to make SRJC a safe environment as possible for all of our employees and students,” said SRJC President Dr. Frank Chong.
“We are providing the necessary support services to the victim,” Dr. Chong said. These services include the support service of Verity, a non-profit that provides sexual assault counseling, prevention and intervention and provides a crisis hotline. This is consistent with the district police’s report.
“I met with my senior administrative team and district police on Wednesday, Aug. 26 to assess the situation and develop a plan of action,” Dr. Chong said in an email to faculty and staff. “Though such incidents are rare on our campus, we take them very seriously and are committed to preventing all sexual assault.”
Dr. Chong said he met with the Feminist Club on Aug. 26 and plans to coordinate with the members and other student led groups to address this issue and prevent future assaults. “We have a relatively safe campus and we want to keep it that way.”
Dr. Chong developed and released a four-point plan to maintain health and safety on campus. His plan includes offering free and confidential counseling to any students and employees affected by this incident, offering workshops about preventing sexual assault and maintaining personal safety, increasing police presence on campus and implementing an internal review of campus security after hours.
SRPD Sergeant Terry Anderson with the DVSA unit said he has not received any updates on the case as of Aug. 26.