City and University officals said Wednesday the armed robbery and sexual assault of a female Yale student early Sunday morning did not indicate a rise in crime overall, but urged caution for students, especially those living off campus.
New Haven police were called to an apartment building at 1275 Chapel Street at 2:30 a.m. Sunday, New Haven police spokeswoman Bonnie Winchester said in an e-mail. A female Yale student who lives in the building told police a man forced his way into her apartment early that morning and fondled her.
Karen Dubois-Walton, the city’s chief administrative officer, said she was informed of the incident by the police Sunday. Dubois-Walton oversees the city’s police department.
“Our hearts go out to this poor young woman,” Dubois-Walton said. “I think the best thing the city can do is make an arrest.”
Winchester said the woman described the robber as a black male wearing a mask and carrying a gun.
The man confronted the student on the third-floor landing of her apartment building and told her to give him money, which the student did, Winchester said. The man then asked the woman for a phone, and she offered to give him her cell phone. Instead, he told her he wanted to use the phone in her apartment.
Once inside, the woman told police, the man told her to undress. When she refused, the man pushed her up against a wall and fondled her, Winchester said.
She said the man then asked the student to get money from her roommate’s room. When the woman searched the room and said she could not find any, the man threatened to wake up the roommate.
The man finally left the room when the woman told him that there were several other people in the apartment, Winchester said.
Ward 2 Alderwoman Joyce Chen ’01, who represents the district containing the apartment building and lives nearby, said she felt “incredible sympathy” for the woman.
“For students especially, to be violated that way living off campus, it must be very traumatic,” Chen said.
Chen called the area of the Dwight neighborhood where the woman lived a “target area,” where criminals focus because they know a large number of students live there.
“People are looking to rob someone or assault someone, they know students are there,” Chen said. “I can list for you a number of friends of mine who have been robbed there.”
Dubois-Walton said crime has fallen significantly in the city in recent years, but that students must still be careful about their safety.
Chen said the Yale police should expand their patrols to include the neighborhood where the woman was assaulted, since so many University students live there. She said University police occasionally drive through the area, but do not patrol there regularly.
Yale Dean of Student Affairs Betty Trachtenberg said although it would not have prevented this incident, students should not walk around the city late at night by themselves.
“I think [Yale community members] have to be aware of their own security,” Trachtenberg said.
Walton said the investigation into the incident in ongoing and that she plans to be informed about any progress in the case.