UNIVERSITY PARK — A Southern Methodist University student reported to police that an acquaintance sexually assaulted her in her dorm room early Monday morning, campus officials say.
SMU issued a campus crime alert Tuesday reporting the incident, which occurred “in the early morning hours” at Perkins Hall dormitory located at 6004 Hillcrest Ave. SMU police are investigating, the crime alert says.
University spokesman Kent Best issued this statement regarding the incident:
"SMU takes all allegations of sexual assault seriously and its police department vigorously investigates all such complaints. The alleged sexual assault reported to SMU Police on Jan. 21 is under police investigation. Anyone with information about this matter is asked to contact SMU Police at 214-768-3388."
Best said the university's police department is working with the Dallas County District Attorney's Office. No arrest has been made and the investigation is ongoing.
"This is an acquaintance situation, so SMU police, which is continuing its investigation, knows the identity of both students," Best wrote in an e-mail.
Last year, SMU formed a sexual assault task force to address how the university investigated and punished sexual assault cases. It met in October for the first time.
That May, the university’s student newspaper The Daily Campus found that the school uses an internal system of hearings and then doles out its own punishment without always forwarding the case to the Dallas County District Attorney’s Office.
That changed last year, however, with the sexual assault charges filed against John David Mahaffey and Donald Samuel Cuba. Mahaffey, 19, is accused of sexually assaulting a male student twice at the Sigma Phi Epsilon house and at a nearby parking garage.
Cuba, 20, was indicted in September for allegedly raping an SMU student in Smith Hall on Feb. 10. SMU President Gerald Turner has also invited Dallas County District Attorney Craig Watkins to campus to discuss the university's response to sexual assaults.
This is the fourth reported sexual assault this academic year, dating to August 2012, Best said. Students laud the university for quickly publicizing the details.
"I think it's a good thing that SMU is seeing that this is an issue we are facing and I don't think it's unique to SMU," said Kelsey Knobloch, a student. "I think it's an issue a lot of campuses are facing."
"I think SMU always does a good job telling us what to be aware of," added senior Jenny DeVries.
"It's scary," said freshman Sarah Israel. "For sure."
The Task Force on Sexual Misconduct Policies and Procedures’ goal is to “reexamine how the University handles allegations of sexual misconduct among students.”
Best said the task force is "hoping to conclude its meetings by the end of April."
"The group will review information gathered in the fall from internal and external experts as well as benchmarking information it has been collecting from 30 other universities," Best said.