University of Utah warns students of an overnight sexual assault near library

| Tribune File Photo A cyclist passes by the Marriott Library on the University of Utah campus at sunset Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2011.

In the first major public safety concern at the University of Utah since the Oct. 22 murder of Lauren McCluskey, campus police say a woman reported being sexually assaulted late Monday near the Marriott Library.

They are disclosing few other details.

U. police notified students and staff early Tuesday through the school’s alert system. The alert said the assault happened “in the area west of the Marriott Library" about 10:30 p.m. The episode, it added, was reported to police “just after midnight."

At a morning news conference attended by FOX 13, a police spokesman said the woman described being attacked by a man. Police learned of the assault when the woman went to University Hospital. Detectives are waiting for her to get two nights of sleep before speaking with her more, FOX 13 reported.

No suspect description has been provided, but anyone with information can call campus police at 801-585-2677. That’s also the number to call for anyone wanting a security escort on campus.

Stephany Murguia, director of education at the Rape Recovery Center in Salt Lake City, said the crisis line there typically sees an increase in calls after an alert is broadcast. The callers are survivors of sex assault, she said.

“When alerts are sent out," Murguia said, "it can be very difficult for survivors, and, at the same time, we applaud any effort to inform our community about their safety.”

Connor Morgan, the student body president, said in an email that he spoke with U. President Ruth Watkins and that campus administration planned to continue updating students as more information is available.

“I have full confidence at this time,” Morgan wrote in an email to The Salt Lake Tribune, “that this deeply upsetting incident is being addressed, investigated, and responded to appropriately, effectively, and diligently.”

The sex assault report comes five months after McCluskey was gunned down by a man she briefly dated. The senior heptathlete had notified police about how the man, Melvin Rowland, who later took his own life, was extorting and harassing her. Independent reports and McCluskey’s parents have criticized the U.'s response to the student-athlete’s concerns.

The Utah Legislature recently passed a bill requiring public universities to craft campus safety plans spelling out the rights of victims of sexual assault, stalking, dating violence or domestic violence.

Editor’s note The Salt Lake Tribune and FOX 13 are content-sharing partners.

(Courtesy University of Utah) A copy of the alert issued early March 26, 2019, by police at the University of Utah

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