Search continues for 2 men suspected of sexual assault

By Josh Harvison - bio | email

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) – Officials with Arkansas State University told Region 8 News they're still searching for information that may lead to the whereabouts of two individuals accused of sexually assaulting a student at a fraternity house early Saturday morning. Arkansas State University Police said they have been questioning people who were at a social gathering Friday night into Saturday morning at the Pi Kappa Alpha house.

"Safety is always a concern for us at Arkansas State University and that our police department is giving that the top priority," said Dr. Rick Stripling, Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs. "The issue is that we've had a reported sexual assault and it is our responsibility to do the due diligence and follow up on that."

Stripling said the university is in "fact finding" mode. Once all the information is collected, the school will determine what, if any, punishments will be given.

"I think that the administration is aware of the situation and I think that's important and therefore they're doing the due diligence," said Stripling. "Once a person has made that charge, then we turn that over and actually work with the folks downtown."

Stripling said if anybody has information to call UPD at 972-2093.

"We encourage them to come forward and we also have female employees here in place that can assist with that," said Stripling.

Region 8 News contacted the Women's Crisis Center of Northeast Arkansas Monday.  Officials there said they've received several complaints of sexual assault in the past.

"I think it has the potential for that, to go underreported you know, how much is documented of that, we do not know but what we do know is that when we've been acknowledged that we've got something, our due diligence is to follow up on it," said Stripling.

Members of Pi Kappa Alpha told Region 8 News Monday they do not condone what happened this weekend. According to James Houser, Pi Kappa Alpha President of the Jonesboro chapter, the two suspects are not residents or members of the fraternity.

"My first feeling was a sense of pain and anguish for her. That was the very first feeling that came to me. Is there something that I could have done to prevent this that I did not know," said Houser. "If there's anything that we did and we can change to make our home safer, we can do and we will do."

Houser said the fraternity is looking to change security procedures so similar incidents do not occur.

"It's a concern and it scares us, as members also. It's the thought that we're not going to let go until it gets fixed," said Houser.

Houser said he overheard a female mention she was sexually assaulted. He said he told her to contact police and go to the hospital.

"It was brought to my attention that a girl had felt that she had been possibly sexually assaulted. The two individuals she thinks they may have been were two black males," said Houser. "She had told us that she was afraid to go to the police because she cared about this fraternity.  She always feels safe at our house and many of her friends said the same thing but the concern was her safety."

Houser said his primary concern was with the female victim.

"I do not know the individuals. They are not members of this organization, nor to my knowledge, what organizations they may have been involved with," said Houser. "We value safety in this house. In the house of Pi Kappa Alpha and any time that safety is violated, it is a big concern for our members."

Houser said Pi Kappa Alpha currently has a security team of 12 people during social gatherings. ASU requires fraternities to have ten people working security. Pi Kappa Alpha is looking to add two people to the team. The fraternity is also looking at other security guidelines, including walkie-talkies and wrist bands.

"The colors will change for each registered event and what that would do is if someone did get in our home we would be able to identify that they should not be there sooner," said Houser.

"We're going to have someone come in and talk to us about evaluating our home and looking at concerns; someone who is familiar with cases such as sexual assaults and tell us places in our home that we might need to monitor more closely," said Houser.

Houser said both the victim and two suspects were not on the guest list for Friday night's event. He said he does not know how they got inside the fraternity house.

"A concern how the guests who were not on the guest list may have entered is if someone enters our home that's not on the guest list, it's our responsibility to escort them out," said Houser. "It's a potential for someone's friends who may be inside to let them in and that may have been how the individuals entered our home."

"I hope that we get to the bottom of this and we're doing the best by helping the campus police. Helping any official that needs information, we are happy to provide that," said Houser.

©2010 KAIT

 All rights reserved.