ATHENS, Ohio-- A police investigation has been launched into allegations that an Ohio University co-ed was raped on a busy street in downtown Athens last weekend.
It was homecoming weekend at Ohio University, and the streets in Athens were packed with students and alumni. Then early Sunday morning, on the busiest street in town, Court Street, a young man is seen engaging in what appeared to be a public sex act with a young woman in front of a bank.
"How can someone do that? I thought it was very disgusting, and think it looks bad for Athens, Ohio and Ohio University," said student, Holly Tod.
Police say some of the witnesses to the incident took video and photos and posted them on social media sites.
"I couldn't believe it at first. I saw the picture on Twitter and I was like, 'there's no way that this is on social media, that this actually went down here'," said student, Jimmy Eckhardt.
The incident took on a completely different complexion Sunday night, when the young woman shown in the photos went to Athens police and reported that she had been the victim of a rape. The details of what happened are now the focus of a criminal investigation.
"Honestly, I can say I'm not surprised. I think it's pretty disgusting, but crazy things happen in this town," said graduate, Chip Detty.
Many students are questioning why witnesses did not intervene or call the police. The Athens police station is just a block away from the bank on Court Street.
The following is the entire statement from Ohio University President Roderick J. McDavis:
"Over the course of the past few days, Ohio University has been cast into the national spotlight following an incident involving allegations of non-consensual sexual contact that occurred off-campus on Court Street. Ohio University strongly condemns the alleged behaviors, which are counter to the values of character, community and civility, upon which we were founded.
Our internal investigation of this alleged incident is being conducted in accordance with university policy and procedures in a way that is supportive of the criminal investigation being carried out by the Athens Police Department. When we conclude our investigation, we will take appropriate action to hold those involved accountable, in keeping with Ohio University’s policies and Code of Conduct. Additionally, we are using all appropriate resources to provide support to the student who has reported the alleged incident.
The incident and the ensuing response have been difficult for our University community, and in our time of fast-paced communications, some of the discussion surrounding this event has been divisive and unproductive. I ask for your thoughtful input and civility as we seek to ensure the safety of our students as well as the integrity of the Ohio University community. And I challenge all of us as members of the University community to embrace the educational opportunity that this unfortunate incident has presented.
Today, Ohio University can help to shape the national conversation on important societal issues. It is my hope that we will use this opportunity to foster open dialogue on issues of conduct, community, civility, and the impacts of social media. More importantly, I hope that the unfortunate incident of last weekend strengthens our community by inspiring an unprecedented level of care within our University family. That is who we are!"