Local arrested for sexual assault on campus
Published: Monday, October 1, 2012
Updated: Monday, October 1, 2012 07:10
A Tufts student was sexually assaulted on Sept. 16 as she left the Jackson Photo Lab in the Aidekman Arts Center late at night, according to the Tufts University Police Department (TUPD).
Although the sexual assault victim could not be reached for comment, police reports indicated that she did not know Jean Baptiste before he approached her, told her she was beautiful and touched her inappropriately.
The student left the scene and called TUPD from her dorm room at 10:50 p.m., according to the TUPD police log. The alleged perpetrator, 20-year-old Berthony Jean Baptiste, was arrested by TUPD on the fourth floor of South Hall after a resident assistant (RA) there called to report a suspicious person whose description matched the assailant’s, the log said.
Jean Baptiste was positively identified by the student as her assailant and brought to the Somerville Police, who held him on a $1,000 bail for indecent assault and battery, trespassing and furnishing a false name and social security number, according to TUPD Sergeant Robert McCarthy.
Jean Baptiste, a Somerville resident from the Union Square area, appeared to have no affiliation with the university or any of its students and refused to give a reason for being on campus, McCarthy said.
On a separate occasion in 2010, Jean Baptiste was arrested in Watertown, Mass. for assault and battery and refusing to give his name to police.
“We don’t get that many reports [of this sort of assault],” Director of Health Education Ian Wong said. “The only issue is, these things aren’t always reported.”
Wong said that the most common form of indecent assault entails students hurting other students.
“Those issues of someone jumping out of the bushes and assaulting you [are rare],” he said. “Usually [the assaulter and the victim] know each other, and sometimes there’s alcohol involved.”
Jean Baptiste was arraigned and pled not guilty, and his bail was posted, according to McCarthy, but the charges stand and he has yet to see trial.
“You never know
what’s going to happen from here,” McCarthy said. “It’s not over.”
According to Wong, the university’s priority in sexual assault cases is to use the Department of Health Education and the Office of Equal Opportunity’s resources to assist the victim in dealing with the complicated aftermath.
“The challenge I think we have is how to help students who were assaulted find the support they need and feel comfortable bringing up charges,” Wong said.
Although Jean Baptiste had jewelry and sunglasses in his pockets when he was arrested in South Hall, TUPD determined that it was inexpensive costume jewelry and unlikely to have been stolen from students. However, South residents were questioned by TUPD to search for further offenses, according to freshman Michele De Mars, a resident of the fourth floor of South who witnessed the arrest.
“None of our jewelry was taken,” she said. “I think he was wandering around the building for quite a while.”
De Mars said police also asked if the trespasser said anything inappropriate to her or her roommate. While in South, Jean Baptiste entered their RA’s room across the hall and spoke to her, according to De Mars.
De Mars said she was not scared at the time of Jean Baptiste’s arrest because she only learned of his entrance into the building after he had been apprehended. She added that she now thinks twice about leaving her door unlocked or letting strangers into the building.
“It just made me rethink security,” De Mars said. “It was just a reminder not to [let people in] because you don’t really know who people are.”
Wong, who usually focuses on the prevention side of sexual assault, said that allowing strangers into locked buildings is a definite concern.
“This has been a problem with college campuses for a long time, students letting other students in,” he said. “There’s a difference between being polite and being unsafe.”