Police investigate sexual assault on San Francisco State campus

SAN FRANCISCO (KTVU and Wires) -- San Francisco State police are investigating a sexual assault that happened on campus early Thursday morning, according to authorities.

Police said they received the report of the assault when the female victim called the University Police Department Thursday at 12:42 a.m.

She said prior to the incident, she noticed a man in his late 20s sitting at the metal tables by the exterior restaurants at the Cesar Chavez Student Center.

The man followed the victim and forcefully grabbed her on a pathway between Burk Hall and the Student Health Center. He pulled the victim into bushes by some trash bins outside Burk Hall.

According to the victim's report, the suspect pressed an unknown sharp object against her side, lifted her shirt, and roughly grabbed her breasts and groin area for over a minute.

The victim told police that when she started to cry, the suspect told her to "shut up" before running away. The victim did not know which direction the suspect went in.

Students, who received an email alert about the crime Thursday morning, called the incident "alarming."

"I always feel like I'm supposed to be safe on my campus and it's kind of threatening to think something like that happened on campus. It could have been me. It could have been one of my friends," said Clairene Dotinga, a freshman at SFSU.

"It's pretty scary that happened," said Elizabeth Andersen, also a freshman at SFSU.

Andersen said she would be taking extra precautions after learning of the attack on campus, including carrying the pepper spray that's typically inside her bag.

"I'll definitely make sure I have that in my hand as I'm walking home, and not listen to music and be more aware," said Andersen.

The suspect is described as a man of unknown race in his late 20s, 5 feet 7 inches tall, medium build, wearing a grey hoodie-style sweatshirt and blue jeans.

Administrators said university police were pursuing leads and working to catch the person responsible.

Data from the university's 2014 campus security and fire safety report show that one sexual battery took place on campus in 2011 and another in 2013. According to the same report, two rapes occurred on campus in 2011 and four occurred in 2013.

The prevalence of sexual offenses on university campuses has become a nationwide issue. SFSU vice president of student affairs and enrollment management Luoluo Hong said the university has ramped up its efforts to educate students, staff and faculty about sexual offenses and prevent them.

The university will be conducting a survey of current students during the spring 2015 term about the incidence and prevalence of sexual violence. Hong said she expects the university to have the survey results by the end of the academic year.

Police are asking anyone who saw or heard any part of the incident or who might have any information on the suspect to contact the San Francisco State University Police Department at 415-338-2222 or the anonymous tip line at 415-338-3030.