By Lauren Toole
Last Tuesday, Oct. 23 around 10:30 p.m., two students working in Olin Library witnessed a man acting in a sexually inappropriate manner and alerted library staff, who called Campus Safety. Three officers arrived within two to three minutes after the call was placed and began floor-by-floor checks of the building. They then expanded the search to the entirety of campus, but were unable to locate the individual.
Im thinking in that time frame, the person went out to the parking lot, got in [his] car and left, said Officer Greg von Freymann, who handled the call. By the time we got the call and were dispatched, it was probably 8-10 minutes, which is way too long. Im sure the person was long gone by the time we got there.
One of the students who reported the incident was working in a cubicle area on the third floor when she noticed an older man sitting in a chair in between two rows of cubicles.
He had probably been there for about half an hour, but I really didnt pay attention to him. I was working, she said. When I turned around to go renew my computer, I saw out of the corner of my eye that his pants were down and his hands [were] on his genitals.
She went downstairs and called Campus Safety with the library manager. By the time I came back, he had left, she said.
I think the person walked out the door and to the parking lot, von Freymann said. We had no directions, no description of any vehicle. We were very limited in what we had.
The individual was described as a Caucasian male in his mid-40s, approximately 510 with a slender build and scruffy beard. Safety believes this could be an individual the College has dealt with in the past and against whom they have a trespass letter.
We havent confirmed that [it is the same person], von Freymann said. He fits the description, and his behavior is what comes in mind with what happened last year. We are thinking it is this person.
The Knox County Sheriffs Department is also involved in the investigation. First, deputies followed up with the suspect, who is reportedly in Chicago. We dont believe that to be true, von Freymann said. We think hes back in the County, so [the Deputies are] still doing some follow-up.
The Sheriffs Department has contacted the Moundbuilders Guidance Center, a mental health facility where the suspect was previously a patient, and his family members in the area. Theyve been checking those residences for his vehicle, von Freymann said.
Though Safety and the Sheriffs Department are focusing on this individual, an image has not yet been circulated to the student body due to inconsistencies in the description. It could be something sent out if we get closer to [confirming] that this is the person, von Freymann said. If it happens within the next week, then something will be sent out. Were trying to get a little more solid that that is the individual as far as description.
Safety does not believe this is the same person who was reported for public indecency at the Kenyon Athletic Center (KAC) on Sept. 18 and 19. The descriptions have been a little different, von Freymann said. So we dont think its the same individual.
In all the incidences this year, with people down at KAC and Olin, [the issue] has been time, von Freymann said. We havent had enough time to get where we needed to go to. I think had we just a couple of minutes we would have caught the person.
Though Safety has increased patrols through residence halls, Olin, the KAC and other public areas on campus, there are only two to five officers on any given shift. Students, faculty and staff should be mindful of their surroundings since Safety does not have the manpower to see everything that happens on campus, according to von Freymann. It really comes back to the student body being vigilant, he said.
Safety has had numerous meetings since the incident in Olin to determine how they can further their efforts to catch not only this individual but also others, like the man reported at the KAC.
Were doing what we can do, from our standpoint, said von Freymann. I think if the students step it up a little bit and try to do it from their side, we can do a little bit more. I think well be in good shape and hopefully catch the guy or multiple people.
Call our office right away, get a really good description of the person, follow the person if you can safely, with maybe another person, von Freymann said. If for some reason theyre outside, if you can get a vehicle description or plate number, all of thats helpful.
At the KAC in particular, von Freymann said that while it may be the polite thing to do, students should refrain from holding the side door of the facility open for people behind them. The door has restricted card access for authorized personnel. Safety believes that the intruder reported at the KAC may have been let in by a student.
If its your roommate, its one thing, said von Freymann. If its someone you dont know, dont just walk away from the door. Walk through the door and let it close.
Von Freymann believes there is a good chance the individual from Olin will return to campus. In my years of experience with people like this, they tend to keep doing it until they get caught, he said. Hopefully with the student body, with the faculty, staff and everybody involved in keeping an eye out on campus, were going to have a good chance of catching them.
We really, really want to catch this person, von Freymann said. It really aggravates the staff here to have someone like that on campus.