Another student groped on campus as string of sexual assaults continues
The fourth incident in a string of sexual assaults raises questions about security at NYU — particularly for women, who make up 58% of the undergraduate student population.
September 11, 2021
An NYU student reported that they were sexually assaulted on campus at approximately 4:40 p.m. on Sept. 10. This was the fourth such incident in less than two weeks, all of which appear to be perpetrated by the same individual, according to the Department of Campus Safety and the New York City Police Department.
According to an NYU alert sent the day after the incident, the student was standing on the street outside 721 Broadway — the building that houses the Tisch School of the Arts — when a man riding a two-wheeled vehicle grabbed their breast.
Security footage obtained by WSN shows the perpetrator wearing a black face mask and riding a red-and-black moped.
The fourth victim’s description of the attacker matches that of the perpetrator of the three previous groping incidents on campus, which occurred between Aug. 30 and Aug. 31, as WSN previously reported. The reports all described the attacker wearing dark clothing and a motorcycle helmet that covered the majority of their face.
University spokesperson John Beckman condemned the attacks and noted that an investigation is in progress.
“NYU is very concerned about these ongoing drive-by groping crimes that have been directed at women in the neighborhood, including members of the NYU community,” Beckman said. “We hope that anyone with any knowledge that can help bring this to an end will step forward promptly and that the perpetrator will be caught soon. The Campus Safety department is also investigating, and its officers know to keep an eye out for anything that might be related to this activity.”
WSN learned about four other groping incidents that occurred outside of campus boundaries during the month of August and did not involve members of the NYU community, but which have been linked to the same perpetrator by police. The youngest victims were 11 and 15 years old.
The map below shows the locations in downtown Manhattan where the eight assaults occurred.
In campus-wide safety alert emails, NYU has said that the on-campus assaults that occurred on Aug. 31 and Sept. 10 are the subject of an ongoing investigation by police. NYPD spokespeople told WSN that they did not have any information about these incidents.
Students concerned about campus safety
LS first-year Paige Septak said the frequency of the incidents is unsettling, especially since this is her first semester on campus.
“As a female, I feel discomfort because we are a little bit more at risk,” Septak said. “We technically aren’t a campus school, so it’s very hard to regulate, being right outside of [Washington Square Park]. It really is unsettling, especially walking home at night knowing this. There’s always that thought in the back of your mind.”
Tisch first-years Camille Foisie and Sophie Rossman said the fondlings have made them pay more attention to their surroundings, including during daytime hours.
“When we hear about that kind of stuff it does make us feel a little unsafe,” Rossman said. “It’s just one of those things [which] can happen anywhere. I think the most shocking thing about it is the times that it’s happening.”
Many students agreed that since NYU does not have a closed campus, the university is limited in what it can do to stop these incidents. However, Foisie believes that Campus Safety officers should do more to ensure students feel safe.
“I rarely see [Campus Safety] officers late at night — especially around Tisch,” she said. “NYU should send reminders of services for people who are sexually assaulted because it is a traumatic experience. This is happening to so many people on campus.”
Within the past two weeks, Rossman witnessed an unrelated groping outside of the Tisch building. She immediately fled the scene.
“This man comes up from behind her and starts putting his hands on her,” Rossman said. “That’s just like something I’ve never seen before. When I’m on the side of the road, I stand back just in case because of everything that has been happening.”
Sarah McCluskey, a Tisch senior and founder of the Instagram page @nyu.survivors, which serves as “a safe and anonymous place for survivors of sexual/intimate violence at NYU to have their voices heard,” encouraged victims to seek out counseling through the NYU Wellness Exchange or in any way they feel comfortable.
“Speaking openly about our traumas takes away its power over us and creates a stronger community among those affected,” McCluskey wrote in a statement to WSN. “[NYU’s] advice to remain vigilant and aware of your surroundings is an important reminder, not only for this incident but city living in general.”
NYU Campus Safety asks those who observed these incidents or can provide information to help in an investigation to contact the department at 212.998.2222.
Gabriel Hawthorne contributed reporting.
Contact Arnav Binaykia, Rachel Cohen, Rachel Fadem and Suhail Gharaibeh at [email protected]