Authorities are investigating a Southern Connecticut State University student’s claim that she was raped by a Yale student last weekend.
On Jan. 20, students received a campus-wide email from Yale Police Department Chief Ronnell Higgins, informing them that a visitor to campus had reported being sexually assaulted by a Yale student, with whom she was acquainted, on the night of Sunday, Jan. 18.
The female SCSU student was taken to Yale-New Haven Hospital on Tuesday with physical injuries, the New Haven Independent reported Friday. Someone familiar with the case told the Independent that the student said she had been punched in the eye, choked and forced to perform oral and vaginal sex.
Several students interviewed, as well as Yale College Dean Jonathan Holloway, indicated that the alleged rape occurred in Timothy Dwight College. YPD officers arrived on the scene on Wednesday to investigate and question students in nearby suites.
“The police would be happy to hear from anyone with relevant information about the alleged assault in TD,” Holloway wrote in a Friday email to the News.
A Saturday morning email from Timothy Dwight Master Jeffrey Brenzel to the TD community confirmed that an investigation of an alleged sexual assault in the college was taking place. Brenzel echoed Holloway in urging individuals with relevant information to step forward and cooperate in the investigation.
According to the Independent, the accused Yale student has hired New Haven criminal defense attorney William Dow ’63, who is also a lecturer at Yale Law School, to represent him. Dow declined repeated requests for comment from the News.
He told the Independent on Friday, however, that he is confident his client will be cleared.
“The parties knew each other. This was a consensual relationship,” he said. “Two witnesses have come forward and provided exculpatory information.”
On Wednesday around 10:15 a.m., several members of YPD’s Investigative Services Unit were seen inside the college, and an officer remained stationed outside of a suite for several hours after, said a student in Timothy Dwight, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. Police officers on the scene did not provide any additional information to the student, which the student said made them feel unsafe.
“I was a little indignant because I lived right next to [the suite in question], and I felt insecure being left in the dark in regard to my own safety,” the student said. “But I guess that’s how the University operates when these incidents happen.”
Ellie Boswell ’17, who also lives in TD, said two officers wearing civilian clothing knocked on her suite door at around 11:20 a.m. on Thursday, requesting to come in and ask questions.
“I said I didn’t really have time and was running late, but they insisted,” she said.
Boswell said police asked her if she knew anything about the incident that allegedly happened on the night of Jan. 18, to which she responded that she did not.
Another student in TD, who also spoke on the condition of anonymity to protect the alleged perpetrator’s identity, told the News Friday evening that they had spoken with officers who went door to door in the entryway in question on Thursday, in addition to Friday morning over the phone. Because the student had been out Sunday night, however, they had not seen anything.
David Hartman, spokesperson for New Haven Police Department, said that the NHPD has no involvement in the case. The Yale Police Department referred all requests for comment to the Yale Office of Public Affairs and Communication, who could not be reached.
Brenzel said in his Saturday email to the TD community that he could not provide information on the case while the investigation is underway, but he encouraged those with concerns to speak to him or Timothy Dwight Dean Sarah Mahurin GRE ’11, as well as to utilize the many other services offered on Yale’s campus, including the Chaplain’s Office and SHARE.
“I do think that Yale fundamentally provides a safe space for students and guests,” Holloway said. “That said, I think it is always important for students and their guests to be aware of their surroundings as they travel about campus and the greater New Haven area. I also think it important that people report any unusual or unwanted activity to the police or, if appropriate, the SHARE Center.”
Alexa Derman ’18, public relations coordinator for the Yale Women’s Center, said the center stands with survivors of sexual assault, and that its members hope further actions resulting from the reports of sexual assault on campus are carried out fairly and promptly.
“We also hope that these campus-wide messages spur students to think about our responsibilities to each other and the ways in which we can watch out for our friends, other students and guests to create a safer community,” she said.
Title IX Coordinator Stephanie Spangler declined to comment.
Catherine Christy, SCSU Sexual Assault Response Team Coordinator and Victim Advocate, declined to comment on the case on Sunday because it was “still very early at this time.”