The female victim, whose identity was not released, was reportedly walking away from the Harvard Square T stop at Mass Ave. and Church Street at 6:30 a.m. when an unidentified male began to follow her. Harvard University Police Department (HUPD) was informed by Cambridge Police Department (CPD) yesterday that the woman was indecently assaulted at Garden Street and Appian Way, according to the HUPD community advisory, which was sent to students via e-mail.
CPD spokesman Frank T. Pasquarello did not return requests for comment last night.
The intersection of Appian Way and Garden Street lies opposite the dimly-lit Cambridge Common and only a short walk away from various Graduate School of Education (GSE) buildings.
GSE student Cynthia Lee, who works at nearby Gutman Library, said that she considers Cambridge Common somewhat unsafe.
“I feel safe everywhere except for the Common because I hear it’s not safe to walk there at night,” Lee said. “I walked through the Common last night at 11 [p.m.], briskly and very cautiously. It was for the first time and it was like an ordeal.”
Gutman Library worker and Divinity School student Natalie G. Broadnax lives in Porter Square and said she completely avoids walking through the Common.
“If I’m walking to Porter Square, I don’t walk through the Common—it’s unsettling,” she said. “It’s bothersome at night to walk around.”
Broadnax said she wishes that more of the gates to nearby Harvard Yard would remain unlocked at night.
“I know that they lock the gate for safety reasons. It’s also a reverse safety issue if you want to get into the safety of the Yard and out of the street,” she said.
The HUPD advisory reports that the victim described her alleged assailant as a Hispanic male of about thirty years old. The advisory adds that the suspect is of a medium build, with black hair, a moustache, and was wearing blue jeans and an orange backpack at the time of the assault.
The advisory did not divulge further detail, other than calling the incident an indecent assault and battery.
The HUPD website says indecent assault and battery occurs “if a perpetrator intentionally has physical contact of a sexual nature with the victim without the victim’s consent.”
Melissa K. Ruopp, a student at GSE who lives in nearby Cronkhite Graduate Center, said police should release more information to students.
“I would like to know because I don’t like codified language,” she said. “An indecent assault could mean anything.”
But fellow GSE student Laura E. Nally, who was sitting with Ruopp in Cronkite, said that the community advisory gave her as much information as she needed.
“I think that’s really enough for me,” she said.
Cronkhite Resident Advisor Cecelia H. Mo said she is concerned about whether students pay enough attention to these advisories.
“I don’t know if they change their behavior,” said Mo, a KSG student.
Because the incident did not occur on Harvard property, CPD is in charge of investigating the matter.
—Staff writer Robin M. Peguero can reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.