herald

Monday 5 December 2016

Students shocked as gardai probe 'serious sexual assault' at UCD

Katie Baldwin said students generally felt safe at Belfield
Katie Baldwin said students generally felt safe at Belfield

Gardai are investigating the alleged serious sexual assault of a young woman at UCD's Belfield campus.

A student made a report to officers after claiming she had been the victim of sexual assault at the campus last Thursday.

The case is being investigated by Donnybrook gardai, who were due to get a full statement from the woman last night.

No arrests have been made and no suspect has yet been identified.

"Gardai are investigating an alleged sexual assault that occurred at UCD on Thursday 24 November between 10am and 11.30pm," a garda spokesman told the Herald.

It is believed the student who has made a complaint to gardai had been out socialising with friends on the day the alleged assault took place on the campus of the Dublin 4 university.

Specialist officers will now determine what course the investigation will take.

UCD Registrar and Deputy President, Professor Mark Rogers, issued an email to students last night urging them to use the college's 'walk safe' service if they are "alone or feel uneasy".

Beaten

Details of the alleged serious sexual assault come just days after Maynooth University student Kym Owens (18) was savagely beaten in an unrelated incident in the Co Kildare college town, where she suffered life-changing injuries.

News of the alleged sexual assault has raised safety concerns among students at the Dublin campus, who were already wary following Kym's assault near her university.

"I was absolutely shocked when I heard about the attack, my sympathies go out to the girl. There is 24-hour security on the campus and you would generally feel safe, so it was definitely a shock when I heard that an attack happened on the grounds," said UCD student Katie Baldwin (18), from Foxrock.

Parents have also become concerned about their children's safety in the wake of the attack, according to Roisin Rooney (19) and Leah Harte (18), from Co Wexford.

"My parents have been ringing more each day now since the attack last week. We used to feel comfortable walking alone but now we would go in pairs, we wouldn't feel safe walking alone. It's just such a shock that it happened," Leah said.

Alison Sweeney (20), from Co Leitrim, said that the attack has left students feeling more vulnerable on what is generally regarded as a safe campus.

"You wouldn't think that something like this could happen on a college campus. There is a lot of security and the students' union has also organised 'walk-safe', where students can be accompanied if they don't want to talk home alone," she said.

The "walk safe" service on the campus allows students to contact security staff and request an escort on campus.

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