She was crying hysterically as I emerged from my South side student apartment building near People's Park. She said someone had raised her skirt and touched her.
I advised her to go immediately to her room and call the police.
Later, I read in the Daily Californian, that there was a rash of these crimes underway in
the campus area. That was four years ago. Crimes similar to the one outside my building continued the next month and then fell off; the suspects were never caught.
In a recent string of sex-crimes, three suspects—all identified by the victims were quickly apprehended and charged, one with a felony. These crimes surely revive painful memories for past victims.
Crime statistics for the South side attest to the frequency of sexual offenses. Over the years, the university police have adopted such measures as crime alerts to students, installation of emergency phones (with lights), and student escorts for students; student health services include counseling for victims and fall semester trainings. Still, sex crimes burgeon near urban universities.
With 53% female undergraduates and 45% female graduate students, Cal remains a sex-crime destination for male sexual predators.
Much has been written about the causes and consequences of these crimes, and although some sex crimes are as old as Methuselah, they continue to attract researchers trying to explain the phenomenon. Laws regarding these crimes have changed as have our understanding of the perpetrators.
On-line papers, courses, and books on sex crimes are as ubiquitous as on-line pornography. Like many college graduates, I have not up-dated my 1959 criminology course.
Here's what I've been missing:
(1) According to an on-line crime research source, there were 56 registered sex offenders living in Berkeley in April 2010 (the offenders are named:). The ratio of number of residents in Berkeley to the number of sex offenders is 1836 to 1. The number of registered sex offenders compared to the number of residents in Berkeley is smaller than the state average.
(2) In order for a crime, such as sexual battery to be successfully prosecuted, it must be shown that the assailant was seeking sexual arousal. As a university officer explained to me last week, a sexual battery is not merely contact, but contact to sexual organs or breasts (proof of sexual intent).
(3)Law enforcement students studying sex-crime investigation learn to "profile" a case by studying the crime scene. Let's do that in our three recent sex-crime cases. The first case occurred at 1:30 a.m. on the well lighted Grinnell pathway between the Cal Life Sciences building and Eucalyptus Grove (site of seven sex crimes last year). The victim, a young female non-student, was crossing campus to her North side apartment at 1:06 a.m.
A man approached her and asked for directions, according to a UCPD crime alert. When she began to give him directions, the suspect grabbed her between her legs and touched her breasts, according to Lt. Marc Decoulode, UCPD, and was arrested 10 minutes later, identified by the victim and a witness and jailed. Photo of suspect:
According to Decoulade, the charge was felony sexual battery, because the suspect allegedly reached for the victim's arms as well, an important charging detail, which indicates he may have tried to detain her. If the charge sticks, the suspect could face the painful consequence of registering (for a lifetime) as a sex offender.
The suspect's name and, in early accounts, his photo was published by the Daily Cal:
The crime scenes we will profile reveal a common profile—courtship crime. According to researchers. In our first case, this profile includes, eye-contact (suspect approached); requested directions (first date), then he forced fondling (the batteries). Another profile is less obvious—thrill-seeking and risk (brightly lit path, and an eye-witness).
Later, in another morning incident, a UC Berkeley parent was moving her son into the dorms at Unit 3, according to a UCPD crime alert, when a man approached her from behind, while she was guarding her son's stuff, and grabbed her between the legs over her clothing.
The victim then struck the man with her purse and "exchanged a few words with him" as he fled. Photo of suspect:
Although the alleged assailant missed making eye-contact initially, this is still a thrill-seeking courtship crime. When the victim addresses her alleged attacker, it's a bad date, but a date. The victim continued to play "bad girlfriend" by yelling at the man when he crossed the street. This crime has elements of a power-trip, as the man attacks in broad day-light in a situation in which the woman is stranded, guarding her sons stuff.
The quickly-apprehended-suspect's photo was published in the Daily Cal.
Later, a man, allegedly fondled a student from behind and fled. He was also quickly caught, and his picture published:
Why do they do it? According to researchers, most of us have sexual "fantasies," but don't act on them illicitly. Perps act out the fantasies they've pre-planned. Researchers note that the public and police are appalled that perps can enact their crimes on hysterical victims (a turn-off for most) and still be aroused.
The eucalyptus grove victim screamed, and the mother at the dorm was described by police as “very distraught." According to sources at student health services, who responded thoughtfully to my questions last week, "A person may feel less safe out in the world after experiencing an assault such as a groping, and find themselves monitoring their environment more rigorously. They may also find they avoid certain areas that remind them of the assault surroundings.
"The emotional impact of a groping will very much depend on the individual and their previous life experiences, according to student health. One person might shake it off pretty easily, and another be quite rattled by it.
"If a person has previous experience with boundary violations, they may be particularly upset as it brings up the feelings associated with earlier life events, according to student health sources.
"A person might also question why he or she became the target in an effort to prevent a repeat incident. Usually something like this is fairly random and the person violated is chosen because there is an opportunity, not because of the individual’s appearance, dress or the like."
We are posting the following services and preventions offered by student health:
"The Social Services unit at the University Health Services (Tang Center) provides individual counseling for any Cal student who has experienced an assault, physical or sexual. Counseling may include emotional support, identifying healthy coping skills, tools to address anxiety and symptom relief.
"Counselors can also support the student with academic accommodations, if desired, connecting to medical care, legal assistance, and with other identified needs. The unit offers a sexual assault survivors group in the spring semester. This confidential service can be reached by phoning 510-642-6074."
There are many sex-crime prevention efforts underway at UC Berkeley, according to my health service sources.
"Before students arrive on campus they are required to complete the on-line course Alcohol.edu/SexualAssault.edu, a detailed evidence-based program on alcohol abuse and on sexual assault. Additionally, beginning this semester the campus requires mandatory in-person trainings for all new incoming students, graduate and undergraduate, on preventing sexual assault, stalking, and intimate partner violence.
"By the end of Welcome Week over 1500 students will have completed the on-line course requirement. Options for completion include the popular Interactive Theater Program: in which Cal student actors perform a script on a potential sexual assault and continue by interacting with the student audience while in role to answer questions and deepen the content.
Other options include joint presentations by students and staff from the Gender Equity Resource Center and UHS Health Promotion, and a newly produced video featuring Cal students speaking of their experiences of intimate partner violence. Students can find out when presentations are to take place by checking http://geneq.berkeley.edu/preventingviolenceatcal.
Finally, under the auspices of the U.S. Department of Justice, Berkeley and the entire UC system have established the systemwide “empowerU” website for students, http://ucempoweru.berkeley.edu/, with definitions, policies and campus-by-campus resources. Our Health Promotion and "GenEq" trainings and other activities will continue throughout the year."
Ted Friedman backgrounds South side crime for the Planet.