Georgetown U. Attacks -- Same M.O., Different Suspect Details -- Baffle Police

By Paul Duggan
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, September 4, 2009

A spate of crimes, all occurring on or near the Georgetown University campus in the past 18 months or so, typically in the hours before dawn and all following a similar pattern:

A man creeps into a woman's bedroom in a dorm or student apartment, usually through an unlocked door or window and almost always while the victim is asleep. He slides into bed beside her, or he climbs on top of her. Then he gropes her. Or worse. And when she bolts awake, screaming, the intruder leaps to his feet and runs, vanishing in the darkness.

It has happened at least 11 times, police said -- most recently this week.

The assaults are bizarre enough. But to investigators, here's what's truly frustrating:

"White male, black male, black male, Hispanic male, white male," said D.C. police Cmdr. Rodney Parks, reciting the widely varying suspect descriptions provided by victims. As Parks leafed through the reports, his voice grew weary:

"White male, 20 to 30 years old, 5-8 or 5-9, short dark hair, thin build, low voice. . . . White male, 6-2, 200 pounds, chubby, scruffy beard. . . . Hispanic male, 25, 5-10 to 6 feet, thin, olive complexion, cleanshaven. . . . Tall male, black, early 20s, medium build . . . White male, 25, muscular build, athletic, spiked hair standing straight up. . . .

"Here's one for you: Unknown Middle Eastern male."

As Georgetown students arrived this week for the start of a new academic year, it happened again, at 4:20 a.m. Tuesday in a dorm called Village A.

After sneaking in through a ground-floor window, "the suspect climbed into the bed of the complainant while she slept," campus police said in a school-wide e-mail alert. "The suspect began to sexually assault the complainant, whereupon she screamed, and the suspect left the residence through the front door, fleeing in an unknown direction."

Parks, head of the criminal investigations branch, said authorities are stumped. No one has been seriously injured, he said. But it could be only a matter of time.

"Is it a copycat?" Parks wondered. "Is it the same guy, and we're just not getting good descriptions? Is it a group of guys -- some bad prank? All of that is being considered. But we just don't know at this point. There's not enough for us to definitively say."

Classes started Wednesday at Georgetown, and amid the campus bustle on a mild, sun-splashed afternoon, a dozen young women who stopped to talk with a reporter said the incidents, although alarming, have not raised widespread fear in the community.

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