SALT LAKE CITY — Police released few details Tuesday about a sexual assault that forced a campuswide alert at the University of Utah, saying they want to allow the victim to rest before they interview her again.
"At this point in time, we're following all information and all leads we have," U. Police Lt. Brian Wahlin said.
Officers responded to University of Utah Hospital just after midnight, he said, where they learned that a man carried out the assault west of the Marriott Library about 10:30 p.m. Monday.
No arrest has been made and no description or any other information about the attacker was provided.
"In order to allow our victim in this case time to work through that trauma and get through the event that she's been through, we require at least two sleep cycles for her in order to have a follow-up interview with her," Wahlin said. "She would not be able to present accurately the type of information that we would be requiring at this time."
The wait period is effective, said Justin Boardman, a former sex crimes investigator with West Valley City who left the department to train officers and others in trauma-informed response. After establishing a "thumbnail sketch" of what happened by asking some initial questions, "waiting is actually best practice," he said.
"Oftentimes our victims will have gaps in their memory. And over these sleep cycles, some of those gaps will fill in a little bit, and then you can get more detail in the interview process," Boardman said.
Early Tuesday, police had cordoned off a car in a parking lot west of the library. Wahlin said officers were using technology to track down whomever is responsible, but did not give specifics.
Wahlin declined to give details on the assault. He also would not confirm whether the victim is a student or say if she is an adult.
The university sent out an alert at 5 a.m. notifying students and employees of the reported assault. It directed students to pay attention to their surroundings and report anything suspicious but did not specify whether there was a larger threat.
In an email to students and staff, U. President Ruth Watkins said the warning "is part of our commitment to communicate when potential incidents occur that may have far-reaching impacts."
University police typically try to confirm a crime and gather evidence before sending an alert, but can't always do so in a short time frame, she said.
"A lot of it is making sure we have accurate information and as much information as possible," U. spokesman Chris Nelson added.1 comment on this story
Watkins said the school will work diligently to protect the victim's privacy and make sure she can get support and resources. The university has hired a new victim advocate as part of its response to the October death of student Lauren McCluskey, who was killed on campus by a man she had asked U. police to investigate.
Monday's report of sexual assault on campus is one of five this year that are now under investigation, according to the university.
U. police were providing security escorts for students and have also stepped up their patrols on campus. Anyone with information about Monday night's incident is asked to call 801-585-2677.
Contributing: Felicia Martinez