SMITHFIELD, R.I. (WPRI) — Smithfield police are investigating a series of break-ins on the Bryant University campus where the alleged intruder reportedly was “inappropriately touching students while they slept.”
In an email sent to all students, faculty and staff, John Saddlemire, vice president for Student Affairs and dean of students at Bryant University said, “We are now working diligently, along with the Smithfield police, to identify and apprehend the perpetrator of this loathsome crime.”
“There is no place on our campus for violence against individuals,” Saddlemire said.
According to Smithfield Police Capt. Michael Rheaume, investigators have identified a suspect in the case and are close to making an arrest. The suspect is in his late 20s. It was not immediately clear if the suspect was a student or associated with the campus.
Five incidents happened over the weekend inside the campuses’ townhouses where the suspect entered unlocked residences. The email stated the students were awakened by the suspect and confronted him before he left.
Julie Stoneburner said she lives in one of the townhouses involved – though she was not personally a victim.
She said her friends were.
“My bedroom door was locked. Our townhouse door was unlocked,” she told Eyewitness News. “He was around our age, college age…he was going in and out of houses, getting into girls’ beds with them, touching them inappropriately.”
Stoneburner said she and her friends are doing OK under the circumstances.
“We’re just a little shaken up, a little freaked out, but we’re strong girls,” she said.
The university said victims of the assaults have full support available if they wish to talk about their concerns.
Students are asked to be vigilant and wary of campus guests and visitors who they do not know and to immediately report any suspicious activity.