Samuel Goldberg has been a Massachusetts criminal defense attorney for 20 years. Prior to that, he was a New York state prosecutor. He has published various articles regarding the practice of criminal law and frequently provides legal analysis on radio and television, appearing on outlets such as the Fox News Channel, Court TV, MSNBC and The BBC Network. To speak to Sam about a criminal matter call (617) 492 3000.

HARVARD UNIVERSITY CAMPUS IS SCENE OF TWO RAPES WITHIN ONE WEEK

Well, the bad news from Boston’s law enforcement is that, despite all the information and conclusion of “gang activity” in connection with the killings of three females a little over a week ago…nobody has been arrested. On the other hand, Boston can now turn to the city of Cambridge as the latest media-worthy example of criminal repetition.

The matter(s) come from the campus of Harvard University. The school is scrambling to increase its security after two separate rapes were reported within the same week.

As one might imagine, the rapes are on the minds of those on campus, from students to tourists.

The first rape allegedly took place on August 10th as the woman entered the yard through Johnston Gate. Then, four days later, another woman reported being raped in the area of Oxford and Kirkland streets, near the school’s science center.

There is now a noticeable police presence on the campus, from cruisers to plainclothes officers, to uniformed officers and security guards.

The August 10th incident “was the first stranger rape we reported in over 12 years,” said Steven Catalano, public information officer for the Harvard University Police Department, referring to a sexual assault by someone unknown to the victim. He also reported that “We’re in the preliminary stages of the investigation, but the suspect descriptions do not match.”

He also added that neither woman was affiliated with the university and the attacks do not appear to be linked.

The perpetrator of the first attack was described as a “very tanned” man in his mid-20s with a medium build and dark hair. The attacker in the second assault was described as a white male, 5 feet 6 inches, thin, with dark, spiky hair.

Despite the ramped-up police presence and the heightened awareness on campus, many say they are e avoiding the area when possible.

Not a good thing during a season known for tourists and returning students and faculty.

Attorney Sam’s Take On Rape On Campus

“Ok, let me guess, Sam…the local law enforcement and the Harvard authorities are to blame for the rapes, right?”

No, of course not. In fact, it would appear that the University did what they were supposed to do. They sent out an alert to those who were able to receive such alerts. Far from being negligent in advising the school community about potential dangers, the schools is said to do such a good job advising about local crimes that it actually makes some students hyper-vigilant.

Lauren Kim, a 29-year-old graduate student at Harvard explains this. She lives just blocks from where the two rapes were reported, but she has always felt nervous walking home alone because the university frequently sends alerts about crimes nearby. As a result, her three-block walk home has become “harrowing”. “I actually run sometimes,” she said.

“So, you are just blaming the Cambridge police?”

No. By all reports, this is a pretty safe area. There would be no reason to suspect that there would be one, no less two, sexual assaults here. One might make an argument that security was too lax to begin with or should have been ramped up after the first attack. However, there was no more notice here than on other college campuses which are in an urban area.

The question, though, is what happens next?

I remind you that I look at these things through a particular and, some would say, peculiar, lens. For the purposes of this blog, I look at it in terms of how it might impact YOU when it comes to the criminal justice system.

Clearly, there are a couple ways it can effect you. One way, of course, is as a potential victim of crime. So, for that purpose, I can only tell you to be careful and not to be lulled into a false sense of security when walking outside in public. Be vigilant. It only takes a moment to become a crime victim…and when it happens, looking at how great the odds were is of little comfort.

The second way it effects you is if you are anywhere near Harvard University, or were anywhere near it last week.

Police are looking for not one potential defendant it would seem…they are looking for two. This can mean that your chances at being as one of the assailants, whether rightly or wrongly, has doubled.

As we have discussed many times, when high profile crimes take place, a lot of pressure is put on the police and local politicians to arrest someone so that everyone can breath a sigh of relief.

Sometimes, the wrong person is arrested. Nevertheless, the citizenry is usually very happy to assume that it was the right person. So, if you are incorrectly accused of this, or any crime, do not expect a public outcry that you are anything but guilty.

Suddenly, the Harvard University campus seems like a much more dangerous place to be than you thought, huh

For the original story upon which this blog was based, please go to http://www.boston.com/metrodesk/2012/08/17/rape-reported-harvard-campus/0dHXBnZMK5VDzdbmUCN8KN/story.html

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