Multiple sexual assault reports within a week at SUNY Cortland

(Photo via SUNY Cortland).

The SUNY Cortland campus was recently notified of multiple reported incidents of sexual assault within a week in campus residence halls.

SUNY Cortland president Erik J. Bitterbaum notified the campus of four incidents – which occurred during the first week back for students – in a letter via email on Friday (Sept. 8).

“A single incident is too many, but to see four in such a short period of time is truly disturbing,” Bitterbaum said.

Fred Pierce, communications director at SUNY Cortland, told The Cortland Voice on Monday that the incidents were reported to University Police between Sept. 3 to 7. According to Pierce, the reported sexual assault incidents occurred on Aug. 29, Sept. 1 and Sept. 3. A forcible touching incident took place on Sept. 4.

Pierce noted that each reported incident involved different perpetrators and victims, also completely unrelated from each other.

“In all cases, the victim knew the assailant previously,” Pierce said.

University Police are currently investigating three of the four incidents, Pierce said. One of the incidents, he added, was anonymous and the victim “did not identify herself,” therefore no investigation will be conducted.

Pierce mentioned that September is the month where SUNY Cortland, and most other campuses, receive the most sexual assault reports. He noted, however, that it is “highly unusual” for University Police to receive four reports in one week.

“Please know that SUNY Cortland takes this issue very seriously,” Bitterbaum said in the letter. “Anyone found to have had sexual contact without the other person's consent could face criminal charges, university sanctions or both.”

Bitterbaum mentioned in his letter that sexual assault is a “widespread problem” that “all students need to be aware of.”

“It is unacceptable and will continue to be addressed at SUNY Cortland,” he added. “SUNY Cortland strives to maintain a community of inclusiveness. Here, sexual violence has no place.”

Further details on the incidents have yet to be determined.