Two University of Wisconsin students were sexually assaulted over the weekend, in two separate incidents within three blocks of each other.
According to a police report, a slender, 25- to 35-year-old black male attempted to sexually assault a 20-year-old woman near the intersection of East Johnson and Pinckney streets around 9:30 p.m. Saturday.
A second victim was assaulted in a dark alley on the 400 block of North Henry Street around 2 a.m. Sunday. The only details in the suspect’s description were that he was wearing a black hoodie.
Madison Police Department spokesperson Joel DeSpain said both cases will most likely be assigned to the same detective to keep a closer watch for possible similarities.
In both cases, the victims agreed to further medical examination at Meriter hospital, which has a program that offers a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner to victims.
“Usually, we suggest the victim go get a SANE examination,” DeSpain said. “Obviously, it helps us if we’re going to try to catch people with DNA evidence.”
Jill Poarch, registered nurse and SANE program nurse coordinator, said victims come to them in various ways, such as through the Rape Crisis Center, the police or on their own.
In 2007, Meriter took in 377 victims; 22 were UW students and 113 were between the ages of 18 and 29, Poarch said.
Ninety-one percent of victims treated at Meriter in 2007 were female.
When a victim is brought to Meriter for testing, they are checked through emergency room triage to make sure they have no life-threatening injuries, and then they meet with a SANE nurse and a counselor, who conducts further follow up.
Poarch said the victim is given options ranging from a simple medical examination to data collection for further investigation. She said sometimes people go through sexually transmitted diseases and pregnancy testing, while others take preventative medication before leaving.
“Before they go, we make sure they have a safe place to go,” Poarch said, adding they work closely with the Rape Crisis Center and other support programs to make sure victims are safe.
University Health Services does not conduct testing for the purposes of gathering investigative evidence but offers free HIV and STD testing and counseling.
Poarch said it is never too late to report a sexual assault or come in for testing, although it is more difficult to find DNA trace evidence 96 hours after the incident occurred.
In cases where the victim knows the perpetrator, injuries can be better evidence for criminal prosecution, Poarch said.
University Health Services refers victims to the Student Advocacy and Judicial Affairs, part of the Offices of the Dean of Students, for legal advice if they plan to take action against a perpetrator.
Poarch said preventative measures are difficult to pinpoint, but noted that consuming alcohol can increase a person’s risk of being assaulted.
“Drinking does make you sometimes not aware of risks,” Poarch said. “People don’t resist as much if they’ve been drinking.”