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BUPD assists BPD in Ashford St. assaults investigation

The Boston University Police Department is assisting the Boston Police Department in identifying the suspect connected to the five assaults on female students in the Ashford Street area, police officials said.

“We have been increasing our patrols, so we have specified, defined patrols with a police officer presence in that neighborhood during the times these crimes have occurred,” said BUPD Captain Robert Molloy.

Molloy said these have been unusual crimes for the BUPD to encounter.

“I haven’t been aware of these types of assaults,” he said.

BUPD officials said they did not know about the first two assaults until Nov. 6 because they were reported to the BPD.

“It was at that time we determined to put out the alert because that added to the other ones that we had,” Molloy said. “At that time, we saw that this activity was continuing.”

The first three incidents of a male suspect taking pictures under a female victim’s skirt occurred on Sept. 23 and Oct. 21 and were reported to BUPD.

However, the incidents on Oct. 27 and Oct. 28 and were only reported to Boston Police, Molloy said.

Once the Oct. 27 incident was reported to BUPD on Nov. 6, Molloy said BUPD saw the need to put out a community alert.

BUPD put out the alert on Wednesday night to warn students about these incidents and remind them of safety tips, including walking with friends at night and being aware of their surroundings.

“It depends on how the incidents happened and the circumstances around them,” Molloy said. “When we found out that Boston Police had reports of other incidents in October, and we did not know that until the Nov. 6 report.”

Over the past six weeks, five female students have been assaulted in the area of Ashford Street in Brighton between the hours of 12 a.m. and 2 a.m., according to the BPD’s blog. In every incident, the male suspect comes from behind, pushes a female victim to the ground and takes a picture under her skirt using his iPhone.

All of the victims have been BU students, as far as BUPD is aware, Molloy said.

The victims describe the suspect as a white or light-skinned Hispanic male between the ages of 19 and 30. He has a thin or average build and wears dark clothing, but none of the victims could describe his facial features more closely, Molloy said.

BPD officers suggested that people be aware of their surroundings and alert for anything suspicious.

“Don’t assume it can’t happen to you, crime can happen to anyone at any time,” according to the police blog.

Pedestrians are advised to walk with confidence, carry a whistle or car keys to use if threatened and call ahead to their destination with their estimated time of arrival.

If an unarmed attacker confronts someone, police suggest that the victim try to scare, distract or incapacitate the attacker enough to escape. The victim should yell words such as “help” to make passersby aware of the situation, according to the blog.

“The most important thing is for people to look out for each other,” said Maureen Mahoney, director of the Sexual Assault Response & Prevention Center. “Bystanders becoming involved is important whether it’s in looking out for each other or being aware of what friends and acquaintances are doing.”

Mahoney said the suspect must have friends, acquaintances or roommates who are aware this is going on and it is their responsibility to report it.

“It would be good if they could be active and prevent it,” she said.

SARP has a staff of Crisis Intervention Counselors available to students 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year, Mahoney said.

Chris Lisinski contributed to the reporting of this article.

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