College Student Assaulted While Running Along the River

The Massachusetts State Police are actively investigating the assault of a Harvard College student that occurred late Tuesday night on Memorial Drive near Western Avenue.

The incident occurred just before midnight as the victim, a female undergraduate, was running along the Charles River from Leverett House and was grabbed from behind by the attacker, according to an advisory email disseminated to University affiliates by the Harvard University Police Department Wednesday afternoon. The assailant has only been identified to the Mass. State Police as a male with a “strong grip.”

The victim released pepper spray towards the attacker and was able to break free.

“She was carrying pepper spray, which is a smart thing to do,” David Procopio, a spokesperson for the State Police, said. “She discharged it in the direction of the person—she doesn’t know if she sprayed him accurately, if it came in contact with him, but the suspect let go and she was able to get away from him.”

Due to the victim’s “strong response” response to the attack, nothing was stolen and no medical attention was required, Procopio said.

The police reported that the victim did not know the assailant and the attack was unprovoked. Currently, no suspects have been identified and no arrests have been made.

The State Police are currently investigating the incident, calling upon any witnesses for assistance and asking anyone with information to reach out. Additionally, as a “standard practice,” the police are looking in the area to find any security camera footage that may shed any light on the attack, according to Procopio.

In the advisory message, HUPD advised students to avoid distractions and “walking too close to persons unnecessarily.” However, in the case, Procopio said there was no indication that the victim was distracted, and the incident appeared “unavoidable” as the victim was grabbed from behind.

This incident comes a month after two victims, a Harvard Business School doctoral student and a local restaurant employee, were stabbed near John F. Kennedy Park.

—Staff writer Michael E. Xie can be reached at michael.xie@thecrimson.com. Follow him on Twitter @MichaelEXie1.

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