homepage logo

Suspect in custody in Shepherd University sexual assault

By Staff | Feb 6, 2015

The Shepherd University Police Department has arrested a man in connection with Sunday’s sexual assault on the university’s campus.

According to an emergency notification issued by the university Tuesday night, the accused, 32-year-old Jeremiah Goodwin, was arrested and charged by police in connection with the violent assault that occurred near Shaw Hall.

Goodwin is not a Shepherd student, the university said.

As of Tuesday, he was being held at Eastern Regional Jail while awaiting arraignment.

Members of the Shepherd Police Department worked extended shifts continuously since the assault was reported, both to implement expanded patrols on campus and to pursue the investigation until its conclusion, university officials said.

“The assistance of the Shepherdstown Police Department and a number of students and community members has been invaluable in these efforts,” the statement issued Tuesday night reads.

Shepherd University students had mixed opinions regarding campus safety Tuesday, just days after the sexual assault of the female student behind the residence hall on campus.

Some students said they feel less safe since the incident that occurred Sunday night, while others said they don’t feel the campus is any less safe.

According to a statement released by the university earlier this week, the alleged victim was attacked by a male assailant at about 7:50 p.m. while she was walking along the rear sidewalks behind Shaw Hall. The suspect fled the scene on foot after the student began to scream for help, officials said. So far no arrests have been made in connection with the incident.

“I’m normally here during the day, so I feel pretty safe, but if lived here I would feel a little bit nervous after hearing about that story,” said Shepherd University senior Stephanie Borsos as she walked in the area of Shaw Hall.

Freshman university student Rachel Grizzle told a reporter that she is a music major and feels uncomfortable on campus at night. She said fellow student Noah Shackelford, who is also a freshman, often walks with her to make her feel more safe.

“I have ensembles late at night because I’m a music major, and it makes me uncomfortable walking back by myself, so a lot of times he comes and walks with me. It makes you feel uncomfortable being by yourself at all,” Grizzle said.

She said the feeling persisted prior to Sunday’s incident, but she said she feels more scared since the attempted sexual assault of the student.

Shelby Lee, who lives off campus, said she still feels safe on campus, but said she specifically doesn’t take classes at night so she is not put in a position where she has to walk alone during the evening.

“I still feel safe on campus. …I choose not to walk around (at night). I don’t take night classes because of that reason,” Lee said.

Cassidy Watson, a commuter student in her junior year at the university, said she feels completely safe on campus and said she has never had any safety issues at the university. While she said the incident Sunday night was sad, she said she doesn’t feel like it’s something that happens in the open outside on campus very often.

“Clearly, it happens at parties and stuff like that where people are taken advantage of when they are vulnerable, but I think in the case of her being behind a building where people could see her. … she would have been OK regardless, because there are so many people around walking in that area a lot of the time,” said Watson.

Anna Staley, another junior at the university, said she feels mostly nervous but isn’t too worried since the incident.

“I have classes that end at night, and it’s a long walk from buildings back to the parking lots, so that’s the biggest thing for me. It’s just kind of in the back of my mind. I’m not super worried about it. I usually try to walk with other students or I get somebody who parked close to drive me back,” Staley said.

Kortni Shambaugh, a sophomore student who lives off campus, said she tries to walk in mostly lit areas at night and avoids dorms when walking during the evening on campus.

“I think it’s crazy, especially because we have like a security office right up there and we have Shepherdstown police driving around all the time. I think it’s really crazy that it happened right behind the dorm. It’s not exactly a closed off area,” Shambaugh said.

Graham Scott, vice president of the Student Government Association, told the campus newspaper, The Picket, that more lighting is needed on campus and that the SGA would discuss the issue at its next meeting. Graham was not immediately available for comment Tuesday.

The Shepherd campus covers more than 300 acres. Academic and administrative buildings are unlocked each morning by facilities management and then secured each evening by the Shepherd University Police Department. University police officers also periodically patrol the interior of residence halls and regularly patrol the campus grounds.

According to the university, lighting is installed along most popular pedestrian lanes of traffic on campus and police caution that unlit or dimly lit areas should be avoided, particularly by students or employees walking alone.

Any student may call university police for an escort from one campus location to another during night hours and there are numerous police call boxes located throughout the campus. By pushing the call button, university police will automatically come to that location.

The university also provides support services for victims of interpersonal violence, such as sexual assault and stalking. Students seeking support but who are unsure if they want to make a formal report can use confidential resources available through the unvseristy to seek help. Information on student resources and how to report incidents of violent crime or sexual assault can be found by visiting www.shepherd.edu/safweb/SUIVRC/index.html.