Following a University Police safety alert regarding reports of sexual abuse from two New Paltz students over Halloween weekend, the campus and the community have been on high alert.
Although both assaults occurred in different locations, the description of the perpetrator was the same. According to University Police Chief David Dugatkin, one incident occurred on the lower part of Main Street in the Village of New Paltz, the other on the northern side of the New Paltz campus —both, however, involved who the victims described as a light skinned Hispanic male, about 5’8”, between the ages of 18-21.
Neither of the two incidents were reported to the University Police Department or the Town of New Paltz Police Department until several days later, but the departments did determine that the person responsible was not a SUNY New Paltz student.
As the investigation is still ongoing, New Paltz students are trying to stay safe, while also expressing desire for more safety precautions.
Stephanie DeMolfetto, a second-year secondary education major, wishes there were more accessible safety precautions — citing an increase in the number of BlueLight safety systems on the outside of campus, and a larger perimeter for the nightly campus escort service as suggestions.
“When I go out we’re always in a big group, but sometimes that’s not enough,” DeMolfetto said.
Going out in groups is one of the precautions suggested by New Paltz Town Police Chief Joseph Snyder. He also recommends staying in well lit areas, being aware of your surroundings and never walking distances alone.
“The person who did this chose to commit this heinous act, and that’s on them, no one else should feel like it is their fault,” Snyder said.
Both departments are conducting a joint investigation and currently looking into a few leads on the case. Anyone with information is asked to contact the University Police Department and the Town of New Paltz Police Department.