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Employee at Syracuse Charged with Sexual Assault

From University Wire

Syracuse Police Saturday charged a Syracuse University Food Services employee with sexually assaulting female students while they slept in their rooms.

Cedric Holmes, 27, used his employee I.D. card early Saturday morning to access the Brewster/Boland complex, SU spokesperson Kevin Morrow said.

"He climbed into bed with several young women and reportedly molested some young women," SU spokesman Kevin Morrow said. "He had a knowledge of the residence hall and knew that some young women left their doors unlocked." Holmes is charged with nine counts of second-degree burglary, four counts of first-degree sexual abuse and five counts of first-degree attempted sexual abuse, Syracuse Police Sgt. Sam Galvagno said.

Holmes is currently in police custody, Galvagno said.

"The intruder has a past of entering the dorm, specifically unlocked doors," Galvagno said.

Holmes allegedly entered the complex at about 5 a.m. with the intention of locating a female friend, Morrow said. His attempts to locate the friend were unsuccessful and Holmes proceeded to walk throughout Boland Hall breaking into unlocked dorm rooms, Morrow said.

Holmes was intoxicated at the time of his alleged entries, Morrow added. Karen Chesley, a freshman, said Holmes broke into her room and attempted to get into her bed.

"I woke up when I felt someone starting to get on my bed," said Chesley, a Daily Orange contributing writer. "I looked up and saw someone looming over me."

Chesley said she "ran to turn on the lights," and asked the man why he was in her room. The man said, "sorry, wrong room," and ran out, she said.

"I was stunned and at first I thought it was a dream," she said. Residents who were confronted by Holmes contacted Public Safety between 5:30 and 7:30 a.m., Morrow said. Following Public Safety's arrival, the Brewster/Boland complex was closed and a room-by-room search was conducted, he said.

Public Safety's search of the complex was negative, Morrow said. Police later spotted Holmes in a parking lot east of the Carrier Dome and approached him because he matched the suspect's description, Morrow said. Three students were asked by police to identify Holmes, but they did not make a positive identification and Holmes was released, Morrow said.

At 10 a.m. Saturday, Holmes called to work to say he would not be in, heightening police suspicions and prompting them to bring him to police headquarters for questioning, Morrow said.

At police headquarters, Holmes admitted that he entered the residence halls Saturday and sexually assaulted residents.

Chesley said it took two calls to Public Safety before an officer made it to her room. She made calls at 5:37 a.m. and 30 minutes later, after they did not respond.

Public Safety was surprised about Chesley's concerns when she inquired about their whereabouts, she said.

"She said, oh you wanted to talk to someone? We just sent someone to look around your floor,'" Chesley said.

Ten minutes after her second call, a Public Safety officer visited her room and asked "did he touch you in any sexual way?" Chesley said. After explaining her situation, the officer told her that this is a common occurrence, Chesley added.

"They said, do not worry, this happens all the time. He was probably just drunk and could not find his room,'" she said.

Public Safety could not be reached for comment.

Students living in the Brewster/Boland complex said they felt violated by Holmes' alleged intrusion.

"It makes me question the security and safety of our dorm," said Zakir Baig, a freshman speech communications major and Boland resident.

Dana Sacchetti, president of the Student Government Association, said 100 to 150 students attended an open forum conducted Sunday night in the Brewster/Boland complex.

Students expressed a variety of security concerns, including Public Safety's "lackluster" response to their calls Monday morning, he said.

"Students were very upset at Public Safety's response," Sacchetti said. "Students still have a lot of concerns that were not answered."

Students were also concerned that SU did not check Holmes' criminal record prior to his hiring - especially because he has been previously caught entering buildings illegally, Sacchetti said.

"This is really troubling," he said. "With a background check, I think this person would not have been hired."

Background checks are a necessity because university employees have access to various buildings and residence halls, Sacchetti said "It is frightening to me and to other students as well," he said.

Public Safety officials, Brewster/Boland complex staff, maintenance personnel and Brockway representatives attended the forum, Chesley said. Public Safety acted defensively when she asked about their response time, she said.

"He said he could not imagine that it took them that long," Chesley said. "He said their response time is excellent."

Public Safety told her that in "a situation like this, a few minutes can take an hour," Chesley said.

The Public Safety officer in attendance said Public Safety has a limited amount of officers and suggested that students petition the university if they feel that more officers are needed, Chesley said.

[Daily Orange, Oct. 26]

Yale students deal with shooting

New Haven police officers continued to work over the weekend to piece together the evidence in aFriday shootout on theYale University campus.

"We have evidence that is going to lead to the solving of that case," said Douglas MacDonald, assistant chief of the New Haven Police Department.

Police officials said they expect to make an arrest in the near future.

Friday's disturbing incident began when gunfire broke out around 3 p.m. near the Art and Architecture building and the Yale Repertory Theatre. Shots were exchanged between two groups of high school-aged teenagers, witnesses said.

Eyewitnesses to the Friday shooting confirmed that between four to five shots were fired in rapid succession. A short break followed the initial gunfire, and several additional shots were fired seconds later.

No injuries have been reported, but one bullet did hit a van passing by the intersection, police said.

A policeman on the scene said that the shooting looked premeditated, but police officials said they now believe Friday's incident was not a planned attack.

"This is a remote incident, between a couple of individuals, with no gang affiliation, and not remotely connected to anything that is going on in the schools," MacDonald said.

A small group of approximately three individuals fired the first shots from behind a U-Haul truck in a driveway next to the Art and Architecture building.

While another group watched from an alley by the Jewish Community Center, two of the three African-American teenagers pulled grey and navy ski masks over their heads. A third individual wearing a grey, wool cap suddenly darted across Chapel Street and the first shots were heard, eyewitness Graham Mosley said.

An unidentified individual standing with the group in front of Photo Snap returned fire, witnesses said.

Moments before shots broke out, Mosley said he encountered a cluster of approximately five teenagers dressed in baggy pants standing by a side alley next to the Jewish Community Center.

After the shooting, the unmasked individual came running towards Mosley and the group of teenagers.

As he ran down Chapel Street, the individual stuffed a black revolver into his pants, Mosley said.

Mosley and the group of young men took off running down the alley.

"As I was running down, I realized that I was running with a guy who has a gun, so if he gets shot this would be a bad place to be," Mosley said.

The group standing at the corner of York and Chapel dispersed down York Street, and several individuals were reported to run in the direction of Broadway Avenue.

Another student who witnessed the attack said the unexpected nature of the afternoon attack shocked her.

Inbal Megiddo was standing by a Chapel Street bus stop when the first shots were fired. Megiddo said she dropped to the ground during the first series of shots and decided to run across the street to seek shelter in the Art Gallery as the second volley broke out.

An Israeli, Megiddo said she never expected to hear shots on the Yale campus at a busy intersection in broad daylight.

"I've been bombed, and I've had stones thrown at me, but I've never actually been in a crossfire before," Megiddo said.

Despite last week's bus shooting at York and High Streets, Friday's incident comes as numbers suggest that New Haven crime has decreased.

MacDonald said that crime in New Haven has fallen dramatically in the last five years. On-campus crime has also dropped, with the total number of reported crimes against persons falling from 15 in 1995 to 12 in 1997.

Acting Yale Chief of Police James Perotti said that Yale policemen have recorded only one incident of aggravated assault in the first nine months of 1998.

[Yale Daily News, Oct. 26]

Charges dropped in Utah case

Citing a lack of evidence, the Salt Lake County district attorney's office has decided not to file charges against two individuals charged with a set of sexual assaults that allegedly occurred the night of Sept, 4 in the University of Utah Kappa Sigma fraternity house.

Each of the two individuals was either a member or a pledge of the University of Utah chapter of the Kappa Sigma fraternity at the time of the alleged incident.

The barriers to prosecution are threefold, said Susan Hunt, deputy district attorney.

"First, the victim has no memory of the events," she said. "This would obviously hinder any prosecution."

The fact that a urinalysis looking for traces of the "date rape" drug, rohypnol, came back negative also hindered the investigation.

"No drugs were detected," Hunt said, "which doesn't, of course, mean that one wasn't used. It does, however, severely hurt our chances."

Rohypnol metabolizes in the body within seven to 72 hours, and the alleged victim was not tested until 23 hours after the alleged incident, said Detective Heather Stringfellow of the Salt Lake City Police Department sex crimes division.

"Her symptoms were certainly consistent with the use of a date rape drug," Stringfellow said.

For her part, the alleged victim said she feels as though she must have been drugged.

"It's the only explanation that makes any sense," she said.

The third barrier, Hunt said, was the uncooperative nature of some of the Kappa Sigma members who were at the fraternity house the night of Sept. 4.

"The witnesses who were there that night have been very uncooperative and their statements were so inconsistent that it has been impossible to determine what exactly happened that night," Hunt said.

Stringfellow, who performed most of the investigation and interviewed most of the witnesses, agreed with Hunt's statement that many of the Kappa Sigma members were uncooperative and evasive, and that they gave inconsistent statements.

Jason Ellis, president of the Kappa Sigma fraternity, declined to comment on any allegations that his fraternity was uncooperative.

One of the two alleged suspects admitted to being uncooperative with the police.

"I was going to talk to [police], but my attorney told me not to, so I never did meet them," he said. "I didn't do anything, so why should I give them anything to go on?"

He said he was not especially relieved to hear he will not face prosecution.

"I was never really worried about it," he said. "I knew I didn't do anything wrong."

"We would like to thank the Salt Lake Police Department for such a thorough investigation and for their help in bringing the truth to the public," was Ellis' only comment.

The alleged victim disagreed that the truth has been made available to the public by this decision.

"Just because they didn't press charges doesn't mean something didn't happen," she said. "It just means they couldn't meet the burden of proof."

The decision not to file charges "has hurt me much more than I thought it would," she said.

[Daily Utah Chronicle, Oct. 23]

U. Virginia student sent to ER

A fourth-year University of Virginia student underwent hospitalization Thursday night after binge drinking to celebrate his 21st birthday.

The "Corner Crawl," a night of visiting Corner bars and attempting to consume 21 shots of alcohol, is popular among University students to commemorate their 21st birthdays.

Asst. Dean of Students Aaron Laushway said the student consumed about 18 to 19 shots of alcohol and then passed out at the Biltmore Bar and Grill.

A rescue squad responded to the incident and pumped the student's stomach. University Hospital has since released the student in good condition, said WINA news reporter Rob Graham.

The WINA news service reported the incident in a Friday morning broadcast based on information from "an anonymous source at the scene," WINA news director Susan McConnell said.

In spite of the Thursday night incident, University officials and police believe that the number of alcohol-related cases has decreased compared with last year.

"In spite of several arrests this year, the number of serious drinking incidents has dropped," University Police Sgt. Tom Durrer said.

Even though the drinking situation at the University has improved, Student Health Director James Turner advised students and administrators to be "cautiously optimistic."

"In spite of a string of quiet weekends, there is nothing preventing another tragedy from occurring," he said.

[Cavalier Daily, Oct. 26]