Woman sexually assaulted near UNA campus

Published: Sep. 19, 2012 at 3:06 PM CDT|Updated: Oct. 17, 2012 at 3:13 PM CDT
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A UNA student was sexually assaulted in her apartment at Summit Ridge.
A UNA student was sexually assaulted in her apartment at Summit Ridge.

FLORENCE, AL (WAFF) - Florence Police are investigating another sexual attack that happened near the University of North Alabama campus this week.

It happened early Monday morning at the Summit Ridge Apartments on Helton Drive.

Police are now offering reward money.

Police said the reward in this case has now topped a thousand dollars.

Investigators said they believe Monday's attack could be related to three other attacks that happened earlier this year - all of them happened within a five mile radius of each other.

This attack happened around 5:30 Monday morning, in the Summit Ridge apartment complex on Helton Drive.

Investigators said the intruder entered the apartment through the sliding glass door.

According to reports, the woman woke up when the man put his hand over her mouth, threatening her not to scream.

The man then sexually abused the 18-year-old, grabbed her purse, and left.

Police said the girl's roommate was asleep in the other room when the attack happened.

"It's very traumatic to these females and they're going to be affected the rest of their lives. They're always going to remember this and we want to prevent this from as many females as possible so they won't have to go through this, and we need help from the community," said Sgt. Cliff Billingsley with Florence Police.

Campus officials said they are working with both the university and city police departments, sharing as much information as possible in hopes of not only catching the man responsible, but protecting other women.

The UNA Police Department said they are there for students who feel unsafe at any time on campus. They have also extended their patrols to include outlying areas off campus.

They've created what they call a Care Team. It's a diverse group of faculty and staff who are dedicated to helping students, Whether it's in dealing with the death of a loved one, severe stress, or other traumatic events - such as a sexual assault.

"The university takes a very active approach in these kinds of situations. We want to be there to help and a lot of times it's just talking, you know: I don't feel safe or how do I feel safer?" said David Shields, vice president of student affairs.

University officials said it's important for students to get the assistance they need now instead of waiting until it escalates into a much larger problem and interferes with their way of life.

Apartments can have plenty of access points for intruders, but there are several things women who live alone can do to stay safe.

A broom stick can be used to jam into a sliding glass door.

Always use a deadbolt lock. It's recommended that you use a two-cylinder lock because it requires a key on the inside and out.

Alabama Spy Shop has all kinds of protection. Some of their best selling items with women in mind start with sonic entry alarms that can be stuck on any window or door.

If an intruder still gets in, there should be a motion sensor that will alarm inside.

"If you are in the house and this thing does go off, it's sensing motion in the house. That's an alarm to wake you up to say, 'Hey, somebody is in my home,'" said Tim Lewis with the Spy Shop.

There is even a doorstop that will alarm.

"You can put this at the bottom of your bedroom door. If this gets tripped, this will sound off and even wake up your neighbors around you," said Lewis.

Lewis said pepper spray still seems to be the go-to product for all women, but he hopes these products will increase security.

Copyright 2012 WAFF. All rights reserved.