Two more women reported being assaulted by a man who tried to remove their underwear Thursday night at approximately 11:40 p.m. near campus, on Hathway Avenue near Longview Street, according to the San Luis Obispo Police department (SLOPD).
An unnamed assailant approached the women from behind, reached up their skirts and tried to pull their underwear down, SLOPD Sergeant Jeff Booth said.
The reported assault matches the description of three previously reported assaults beginning in February, the last of which occurred on April 5. In each case, a man attacked the victims and attempted to remove their underwear, police said.
Police are not sure the assailant is the same in each case, but believe the incidents to be linked, Booth said.
“It’s kind of a chronic thing,” Booth said.
The latest description of the suspect is a male, approximately 6-feet tall, with olive skin and a dark gray zip-up hoodie, according to the incident report.
Though SLOPD is handling the case, Cal Poly University Police Department (UPD) released an advisory to students due to the proximity of cases to campus, UPD commander Lori Hashim said.
“We just wanted to put out a safety advisory because it’s just right off campus,” Hashim said.
SLOPD and UPD are also advising that people travel in groups and be aware of their surroundings when out, Booth said.
“Stay together in groups and stay in well-lit areas,” Booth said.
Though these techniques can help reduce the risk of assault, they are not guarantees against it, Sexual Assault Recovery and Prevention (SARP) Center Executive Director Kristy McCray said.
“The only person that can prevent a sexual assault from happening is the perpetrator,” McCray said.
As a community, people need to hold perpetrators for sexual assault responsible, McCray said. People can do this by speaking out against rape jokes and paying attention if they hear a friend mentioning an incident that sounds like an assault and reporting it.
She said men and women can also reduce their risk of being assaulted by keeping an eye out for dangerous or suspicious situations.
Cal Poly President Jeffrey Armstrong’s advice after last year’s reported sexual assaults is also important to keep in mind, McCray said.
“There is a lot of things that we can do as a society and a community to watch out for each other,” she said.
Anyone with information about the reported assaults is advised to call UPD or email a tip to email@example.com.
Victims of sexual assault who are looking for help can go to the SARP Center, or call (805) 545-8888 for a 24-hour confidential support line.