A failure to alert students about an alleged attack near the perimeter of campus caused fear in the Fairfield community two weeks ago.
“My friend and I were walking back to our Townhouse and there were 10 cars and an ambulance by the fields,” said Katie Gillette ‘15. “We saw something come up on Twitter about a potential stabbing and abduction on campus, and at that point we started to freak out a little.”
According to police via the Fairfield Citizen, a 16-year-old female jogger reported that on Thursday June 5, she was allegedly abducted by an unknown male wearing all black and a ski mask. She claimed the attacker held her captive for an hour and asked her to make cuts on her forehead with a razor.
The police investigation into the unusual report of an attempted abduction at Fairfield has remained inconclusive, reported the Fairfield Citizen.
A call was received from the Fairfield Police Department’s Emergency Command center at 8:40 p.m. requesting assistance with report of a possible abduction, according to Assistant Director of Public Safety John Ritchie.
“An assailant was never located, and now as we’re further along in the investigation, we have no reason to believe that there is anyone out there,” said Ritchie.
According to the report, the teen was not harmed directly by her alleged attacker. She was found with small cuts on her face but refused medical attention, according to the Fairfield Citizen.
However, for Christina Barry ‘15, a lack of evidence does not refute the victim’s claims.
“I think far too often we discredit victims because cases become inconclusive,” Barry said. “I personally don’t think a 16-year-old out for a jog near her house, like any other day, would make something like that up.”
According to Ritchie, Public Safety is “pretty confident” about there not being an assailant, but “it’s still an open investigation so we’re not disregarding the incident.”
For Gillette, the problem arose during the lack of communication from Fairfield.
“For me and my parents, not receiving a Stag Alert, email, text or call was most surprising,” she said. “In the long run, Fairfield did not keep the campus community, especially its students, up to date.”
Ritchie said that students had not received a Stag Alert because by the time the danger level of the situation was ascertained, it was deemed unnecessary to send out a message.
“Messages don’t go out the instant that incidents happen,” Ritchie explained. “There’s a time involved when we have to figure out what’s going on, and the resources are spread thin, especially on a Thursday night. So an email went out to inform the community that something had happened.”
However, the email sent from the Office of Student Affairs explaining the situation was only received by a limited number of students.
It failed to send to all students because “a summer list wasn’t properly created,” according to Ritchie. “It has since been reviewed and looked at by the manager who oversees the system.
“We hope that everyone will receive proper notification … Our goal is to hit 100 percent of the people, and if anybody realizes they are not in the current distribution list, we want them to contact us so we can get them on there,” Ritchie added.
Ritchie recommends that students verify and update their cell phone numbers and email addresses on the my.Fairfield portal because “that’s where the information draws from” to put students in the Stag Alert system.
The Fairfield Police Department could not be reached for comment.