Alleged assailant faces three charges.
BY MATTHEW D MEREDITH
A few more details have become available regarding the sexual assault case opened on UW-Parkside’s campus last week.
Students at UW-Parkside received an email Monday Feb. 8 about an alleged sexual assault that occurred on campus a day earlier.
According to Parkside Police Department chief Joseph Heller a “non-student” was apprehended Sunday and charged with second-degree sexual assault of a Parkside student.
Heller also indicated that the alleged assailant was charged with more than just the felony count of sexual assault, including multiple counts of two other charges of battery and theft, though how many counts remain unclear.
Future of case, counts uncertain
Heller noted that the fate of the case lies in the district attorney’s hands. The district attorney may offer a plea deal, which if accepted will move the case along more quickly. However, if the accused pleads not guilty, the case may be in Kenosha’s court system for months.
As in many other cases of sexual assault, Parkside Police Department chief Joseph Heller said, “the victim knew the assailant.”
Heller said that he is withholding the name of the accused and the complainant “to protect the victim.” He also said, “Everyone is innocent until proven guilty.”
While the exact number of counts of each charge issued remains withheld for similar reasons, Heller said that more information will be available through official records as this case moves through the Kenosha County Court and may already be online.
Heller said the incident occurred in one of the residence halls on campus.
“I am not going to share the specific [residence hall],” said Chief Heller. “My priority is to keep the victim’s identity [from the public]. It’s an ongoing investigation. There’s not much I’m going to be able to release.”
Student safety a priority
Heller explained that the department released information to students on Monday because there was no immediate threat.
“The suspect was apprehended quickly and there was no ongoing threat. If the assailant was still on the loose we would have immediately released an emergency text similar to the tornado warnings sent to students on their cell phones.”
Under the Clery Act the P.P.D. is required to release information about crimes committed on university grounds in a timely manner. In the case of this incident, there was an email sent approximately 24 hours after it occurred.
“The health, safety and well-being of our students [are] our top priorit[ies] at all times. If you see something, or if something happens to you, report it”, said Heller. “There are many resources at your disposal as a student. There’s an option to speak with the dean of students if you do not want to involve the police. There are also counseling services for students to deal with issues such as sexual assault.”
All campus crime statistics can be found on the UWP website and are a matter of public record. The Clery Act section includes statistics from cases not reported to the police.
The Ranger News will follow up on this story as details emerge.