by Alisha Rosas
A safety bulletin was scheduled to be distributed today to the University of La Verne community through the mailing system after two ULV students were followed near the Oaks Residence Hall.
Campus Safety issued the bulletin regarding a Hispanic man who looked to be in his mid-30s, wearing blue jeans, a dark baseball cap and a blue T-shirt, who was last seen roaming the campus Sunday.
Suggestions from Campus Safety stress to never walk alone at night; to make use of ULV’s safety whistles when needed for an emergency; to utilize the escort service on campus; and to avoid walking in darkened areas.
Both students said a man fitting that description followed them that afternoon.
It was around 2 p.m. when senior Maisha Pryor walked from Landis Academic Center (LAC) to the Oaks.
She walked past a man who began following her, and she later found out that a fellow ULV student claimed she was followed by a man matching the same description.
Pryor said she walked past Ben Hines Field and noticed that the man crossed the parking lot from LAC after her, all the while making comments such as, “You look good, can I talk to you?” Pryor responded, “No.”
Not wanting the man to know where she lived, Pryor had to decide between going to Circle K or the AAIC building, and chose the latter. Realizing that the doors to the AAIC were locked, and that the man was within “a couple paces behind,” Pryor began to get nervous.
“I was terrified, but I was trying to keep a clear mind,” she said.
She turned toward the alley that is between the AAIC building and the Barkley Building. It was there that she said the man began “grabbing his groin area” and telling Pryor things he wanted to do to her.
Pryor then noticed the umbrella she was holding in her hand. “I turned around toward him and said loudly, ‘If you don’t get away from me, I’ll hit you with my umbrella.'”
Men who were in the parking lot near the Oaks heard her, and when the man realized this, he walked away.
Later, Pryor, a Resident Assistant for A building, met with sophomore Miki Shibuya, one of her residents.
Shibuya said that she was followed by a man, at approximately 1:30 p.m., and described the man to Pryor. Pryor realized that the man who had followed Shibuya, fit the description of the man who had followed her.
After walking from the AAIC building to her residence hall, Shibuya said that a man walked up to her and greeted her.
After returning the salutation, she realized that she had never seen this man on campus before. He asked her how she was doing, but Shibuya said that his age made her feel uneasy. “He was about 30.
“He was Latino and looked very dirty,” she said.
The man began to get closer to her, which caused Shibuya to walk faster toward the Oaks. She said that the man then stopped, and asked her, “Do you want to do something?” and rolled his tongue across his lips.
Shibuya said that after she ignored him, the man walked away from her.
After telling Pryor her story, Pryor immediately called Campus Safety. An officer arrived and Pryor explained the incident. Telling Pryor that he would call her back if there were a need for more of her information, the officer left. Pryor said she did not hear from him again until Tuesday.
A connection that may be of concern to both students and the La Verne community is a rape that occurred Monday at Fairplex in Pomona.
Police are currently looking for a man who raped a 64-year-old woman who was walking for exercise near Gate 14 off White Avenue between 8:55 and 9:50 a.m. The man used a butcher knife to force the woman into some bushes, where he then raped her. The man was last seen moving on foot toward Arrow Highway.
The police report’s log-in described the man as a “Latino man, about 5-feet-8 with short dark hair with gray on the sides. He was wearing a dark baseball cap, a blue muscle shirt and gray pants.”
There is no proof that the man, who reportedly followed the two ULV students, was the man who raped the woman in Pomona, but the descriptions are similar.
What frustrated Pryor the most, she said, “Is how scary it is that they [Campus Safety], waited until the rape in Pomona, before contacting the La Verne Police Department (LVPD),” in regard to the incidents.
“My thing is, I thought that if I told my Campus Safety something, there would be some type of connection between them and LVPD,” she said.
John Lentz, head of campus safety and transportation, said, “At the time, the officer saw it more as a guy casually annoying someone.”
As for the officer not immediately contacting LVPD in regard to the incident, Lentz said, “When the officer got the call and responded, he took it that the guy that was following the student, when confronted, left and complied.
“Based on the fact that he checked the area and couldn’t locate the subject, he felt that at that point the situation had been handled,” he said.
But according to LVPD Sergeant Scott Pickwith, with the circumstances of Pryor’s case, a police report should have been filed immediately.
“If a male was grabbing himself and making sexual comments, that does pose as a threat,” he said.
“The quicker we get information on a subject, the quicker we are able to act.”
Dr. Loretta Rahmani, dean of student affairs, after hearing the news about the rape on the fairgrounds, said, “With that, now we’re saying, ‘Let’s put two and two together … Is there a correlation here?'”
As for the officer’s decision not to immediately contact the LVPD, she said, “I think he made the best call from what he knew at the time.”
Pryor recommended that residents at the Oaks be extra careful, “We’re a little more off campus, and it’s more secluded,” she said. “Even though this is [the city of] La Verne, crime can still happen.”
She said she is still upset over the incident.
“I’m trying not to walk in fear,” she said. “I want to feel safe on campus, but you’re not safe anywhere.”