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Several women molested near Berkeley campus

On Sat., Feb. 28, Mills freshwoman Monica* was sexually assaulted, making her one of 20 young women a serial molester has harassed near the UC Berkeley campus since September 2008.

At 4 a.m., Monica walked down Piedmont Street, passing the fraternity houses to meet her boyfriend. It was a five-minute walk.

The assailant was dressed in black with a hood covering his face. “He must have been hiding behind the bushes outside the frat house or something,” Monica said. “I didn’t even hear him come up behind me before he put his hands under my long sweatshirt to touch my crotch.”

Horrified by the experience, Monica had a friend drive her to the Berkeley police station at 6 a.m. to report the molestation.

“[The cops] made me write up a report, but I couldn’t say what he looked like because he kept his head down and it was too dark,” she said.

The experience upset her. “I’ve been having nightmares every night, so I’m going to see a therapist,” she said.

Police said that the same man has committed 20 reported molestation cases, including Monica’s.

On Feb. 20, a woman was walking on Haste Street when a man tried to grab her dress. Two witnesses to the incident claimed that he was white man in his twenties, about 5’10” tall and 160 pounds, with a medium build and dark, wavy hair.

Since then, sketches of the suspect’s appearance have been posted around the area. Attacks continue even after the sketches were posted.

The molester targets women late at night, usually between 10 p.m. and 2 a.m., when many women walk home from fraternity and sorority parties. They are usually alone or with a friend, and all the victims were reportedly wearing skirts.

Berkeley city police officer Andrew Frankel said that one victim was even attacked twice in the same block in a two-and-a-half-month period.

Carl Swanson, an escort walker for Bear Walk, a door-to-door escort service at UC Berkeley, said, “Bear Walk is the best alternative for young women walking home late at night. We’re up all night to take calls, and if it’s past 2 a.m., we’ll drive you home.”

“Now we even have to read police reports so we know where the attacks are going on to be more cautious and aware,” he added.

Swanson said that the service is free, even for Mills women if they feel the need to be escorted around the Berkeley campus area.

Anyone who needs an escort while in the UC Berkeley area can call 510-642-WALK.

*Name changed to protect the innocent.

Text Box: The Rally

In response to the Berkeley serial molester’s crimes, women at UC Berkeley hosted a “Skirt Rally” on Wednesday, Mar. 4. Protesters were asked to wear skirts as a statement of freedom against the serial molester. Even a supportive young man came sporting a black miniskirt.

Other protestors made signs that read “Freedom from fear” and “Skirts or pants, we wear what we want.”

Dennie Bates, a UC Berkeley alumna, began the protest with a monologue from The Vagina Monologues.

She read, “My short skirt is not begging for it. It does not want you to rip it off me or pull it down. My short skirt is not a legal reason for raping me… My short skirt is a liberation flag in the women’s army. I declare these streets, any streets my vagina’s country.”