BRUNSWICK, Maine — Eight days after a Bowdoin College student reported being sexually assaulted by a man in off-campus housing, another student told police she was grabbed by a man Tuesday night as she walked on a different street in the same neighborhood.
The two incidents have students “absolutely worried and nervous and afraid and very, very, very concerned,” Bowdoin Student Government Vice President Michelle Kruk said Wednesday.
Brunswick police were called at 8:37 p.m. Tuesday to Howell House, at the corner of Maine and Potter streets, where a 20-year-old student said she had been grabbed from behind by the hips while she walked along Potter Street toward Maine Street at about 8 p.m., Brunswick police Cmdr. Marc Hagan said.
The woman said she screamed and ran from the assailant, but when she looked back she couldn’t see anyone.
The woman fled to Howell House, where she relayed the events to a Bowdoin Security officer who was already at the house. Bowdoin Security called Brunswick police at 8:37 p.m.
Bowdoin spokesman Doug Cook later clarified that the security officer was at the residence for another reason. Cook said the security officer was notified about the incident at 8:22 p.m.
Police called for a tracking dog, which arrived at 9:54 p.m. and was unsuccessful in finding anything, Hagan said.
“We actually had an officer on overtime patrolling the campus at the time,” Hagan said. “Had we been contacted when it occurred, he could have been there within seconds or minutes.”
A Brunswick police officer working overtime has patrolled the campus area since Thursday, Hagan said.
“All persons should be concerned,” he said. “We remind people to be more aware of their surroundings and that they should walk in groups or pairs.”
Meanwhile, Brunswick detectives traveled out of state Wednesday to interview a student who reported Nov. 11 that she was sexually assaulted in her room at the college’s Mayflower Apartments on Belmont Street.
Brunswick police on Monday released a composite sketch of a “person of interest” who may have been involved in the sexual assault.
The white man is estimated to be in his late 20s, slender and between 5 foot 10 inches and 6 feet tall. He allegedly was seen loitering in the area of the apartments at about 7:30 p.m. Nov. 10. He had not been seen before in the neighborhood, Brunswick police Cmdr. Mark Waltz said Monday.
Kruk said students started a Facebook group to coordinate walking each other home at night, because several streets near the campus “aren’t that well-lit, and if you live there, and you’re walking home at 2 a.m. after doing homework at the library, it’s not going to be a good walk.”
“The Bowdoin campus is a very safe place,” college spokesman Doug Cook said Wednesday. “We’ve put a lot of energy into maintaining it as a safe place and have stepped up security [since the first incident].”
Cook said college officials have adjusted lighting and inspected locks and met with town officials Wednesday morning “to look into ways to promote safety on campus and in town.”
Kruk said students have noticed that college security and Brunswick police have increased their presence on and around campus.
“They’re everywhere, driving by the college a lot more often — especially Brunswick police,” she said. “I’ve never seen them drive around as often as I have in the past week.”
Still, Kruk said, were it not for a going-away party for a friend moving out of the country, “I don’t think I would be going out at all this weekend.”
“I’m also a woman of color, so I have a doubly-heightened sense of awareness now and an understanding that I’m part of a vulnerable population here,” she said. “I don’t want to get assaulted. I would just rather avoid going out until I know somebody has been caught or that tons and tons of security measures are in place.”
Students planned to gather at 6 p.m. Wednesday to march around the campus and into Brunswick’s downtown with flashlights “to symbolically light the way and give students a sense of empowerment,” she said. “I think that will give students more of a sense of safety.”