ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) — A student at St. Catherine University has reported to campus authorities that she was sexually assaulted over the weekend on a popular St. Paul walking and bike riding trail.
The female student told campus police the incident happened last Sunday at 6 p.m. on River Road by the Ford Plant, about 1.5 miles from campus.
She told police she noticed three men following her. She tried to slow down hoping they would pass her but instead they grabbed her and hauled her into the underbrush.
The woman told police one man held her down while the other two raped her. The victim was not able to give a good description of the attackers, saying the three men were African-American, all about 6 feet 2 inches tall and were between 18-25 years old.
The victim did not report the attack right away and when she did, she spoke with St. Catherine University officials and not St. Paul Police.
The school sent out a warning to parents and students about the attack.
St. Catherine security Chief Laura Goodman said the victim is choosing to handle the attack her own way.
“Victims are in crisis and it’s their decision whether or not they choose to report it to police,” said Goodman. “She has done many things to take care of herself and that’s her focus right now.”
Not going to local police is typical according to a Minneapolis Rape Crisis counselor.
“Survivors really still do hold a lot of shame. Society still has a lot of judgments that it places on survivors,” said counselor Heather Killeen-Bod. “And I think that plays a huge role in whether a survivor feels safe in coming out and saying ‘I have been a victim of this.’”
Because of the security alerts, word spread quickly at the all-women’s college.
“It’s shocking because St. Kate’s seems to never get touched by this kind of … its like we are in this kind of little, safe community and then it like, woah,” said student Clair Shackelford.
And several students said they will no longer take safety for granted.
“I think people will probably be walking more in groups and just keeping aware of their surroundings and making sure that they’re safe and carrying pepper spray, maybe,” said student Julia Brumback.
St. Paul Police said they’re not investigating the incident because the victim has not filed a police report. They say they would welcome her filing a report and would immediately open an investigation.
St. Paul Police also said they did not have any similar reports of attacks in this area that is a very popular spot for walkers, joggers and bikers.