The Harvard University Police Department (HUPD) has issued a community alert warning that a former sex offender recently approached a summer school student in Harvard Square.
According to the notice, Jean B. Baptiste, a.k.a. John Baptiste, approached the unidentified student and "attempted to engage the student in a conversation" on the afternoon of June 27.
The flyer, postered in the Yard dorms, includes a picture of Baptiste and warns that he "has a prior history of sexual assault."
"This is the Harvard University police's effort to make the community aware of an issue involving an individual with a history of sexual assault," said police spokesperson Peggy McNamara.
Although police officials would not reveal the nature of Baptiste's criminal history, citing the Criminal Offender's Rights Act, Crimson archives state that in 1991, Baptiste was convicted of the rape of two male summer school students.
A Boston Globe article from June 28, 1991 stated that the day before Baptiste was ordered to serve one year of a nine to 10 year sentence "for the rape of a young man who was attending. Harvard summer school [in 1990]." The rest of the sentence was suspended.According to evidence presented in court, Baptise would approach students pretending to be a Haravard professor, buy them a meal and inivite them back to his appartment for drinks, the Globe article said.
The current police warning is "a notice to students tobe cautious," McNamara said.
According to McNarara, the HUPD investigaged the July 27 incident because from the student's account the individual in question seemed "extremely suspicious."
Although police would not give details of the July 27 incident, McNamara said that what Baptiste did on the date "was not a crime." However, she said that the Criminal Investigation Unit (CIU) was dealing with the issue. It was the CIU who issued the flyer.
Baptiste was identified using a standard police photo spread which is complied based on a physical description provided by the complaintant.
McNamara said Dean of Students for Continuing Eduction Christopher S. Queen was furnished with a copy of the alert last week.
Harvard University Security Guard George Perry said his unit has also been issued a general alert and was conducting extra partols.
Although reaction among Summer School students was varied, most said they felt that current security masures and their own awareness was sufficient protection.
"I feel that the security in Harvard Yard is adequate. If people are careful, nothing will happen," said Lakshmi S. Atri.
Sam L. Williams said he too was comfortbale with Yard security. He also said his proctor informed them of the alert at his entryway's first meeting.
"I'm not really worked about it," he said, I" wouldn't fall for it because I'm already aware of it," he said.
Rachel E. Duncan said she felt similarly.
"The flier didn't make him sound like someone who would grab you and drag you away. He'd probably offer you a drink or something, and I'm not going to be in a position like that," she said.
Summer School student Jaffer Zaidi said that although everyone is aware of the warning, real concern is minimal.
"No one thinks it could happen to them" he said.
When contacted, a man who identified himself as both Jean B. Baptiste and the individual on the flyer, did not answer questions about the matter.
--Jean L. Scheidnes contributed to the reporting of this article