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Graduate Student Groped in Square

Alleged assault occured in early evening on Mt. Auburn Street

By Hera A. Abbasi, Crimson Staff Writer

As community members gathered at a forum last Thursday to voice their safety concerns, a graduate student was allegedly assaulted on Mt. Auburn Street, according to a community advisory issued by the Harvard University Police Department (HUPD).

The student was walking toward Dunster Street around 7 p.m. on Dec. 11 when a man coming from the opposite direction allegedly attempted to grab her crotch.

When the woman tried to dodge the suspect, he ended up grabbing her thigh, according to the advisory.

The suspect was described as a six-foot two-inch tall white male with a heavy build and buzz-cut brown hair.

Cambridge Police Department (CPD) spokesperson Frank D. Pasquarello could not be reached for comment this weekend.

CPD—which has jurisdiction over the case—classified the incident as an assault and battery.

The last incident of this nature—in which an undergraduate was groped while walking through Cambridge Common in October—was classified as an indecent assault.

“Indecent assault involves the unwanted touching of one person by another, generally in a private area or with sexual overtones,” according to the CPD website.

Last Thursday evening, representatives from CPD and the Harvard University Police Department (HUPD) met with community members at a safety forum, prompted by a Dec. 2 assault with intent to rape near St. Paul’s Church. In that incident, an undergraduate was struck from behind and forced to the ground in the church’s parking lot by an unidentified man.

The suspect in the St. Paul’s assault was described as a six-foot tall white male, 30 to 40 years old, with a heavy build, but HUPD spokesperson Steven G. Catalano said he doubted the church and Mt. Auburn Street assaults were related.

According to Catalano, the publicity of the recent attacks has heightened people’s awareness of the crimes.

“We don’t know if this is a spike or and upward trend,” he said. “There’s a lot of coverage of this, and I think people are more aware of it.”

Catalano urged students to be mindful of their surroundings and report any suspicious activity.

“If they witness anyone acting in a manner that makes them feel uncomfortable, does anything that seems threatening or peculiar, we strongly encourage people to call us,” Catalano said.

In light of the recent assaults, Catalano said HUPD is trying to increase its visibility on campus.

“There is a comfort level when the community members see the officers out here, but we don’t want a false sense of security either,” Catalano said.

—Staff writer Hera A. Abbasi can be reached at

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