Alleged assault at University of La Verne may be latest incident in string of suspected targeted attacks

LA VERNE, Calif. (KABC) -- An investigation is underway at the University of La Verne, where a student reported she was attacked in a residence hall. It's the latest incident possibly connected with a series of suspected hate crimes on campus.

The alleged victim was found around 2:40 p.m. Tuesday when a person leaving the Vista La Verne dorms saw her on the ground in a stairwell, according to La Verne police.

The student said she was physically assaulted by a male wearing a ski mask.

Details on her condition were not released, but authorities said the woman declined medical treatment.

She previously reported threats against her, which police say are still under investigation.

Two months ago, police say a backpack inside her car somehow caught fire. The car remained undamaged, but the items inside were charred. The fire was among two crimes considered threats of violence made against university students that led to classes being canceled on March 1.

MORE: University of La Verne cancels class amid threats of violence against students

News of the latest incident spread across the tight-knit university community Wednesday.

"She had a bag placed over her head, where she was groped and then had her head banged against the railing," student Tania Ruedas said.

Ruedas adds the victim is an outspoken activist for Decolonize University of La Verne, a group which often organizes protests that call for students of all races and backgrounds to be included and accepted at the university.

"She wants everyone to feel safe on campus, to feel loved. That's all she wanted to do," Ruedas said. "Instead, she's being targeted, she's being hurt and other people who wanna speak out are now afraid to do that."

Others on social media claim the alleged attack could be a hate crime related to race. Police have not confirmed that allegation.

A campus spokesperson acknowledged the attacks and threats that allegedly targeted this student and others.

"We've provided a number of accommodations to this student and others who have been impacted by that. That includes campus safety escorts when they're on campus, secure parking, academic accommodations and other support," said Rod Leveque University of La Verne executive director of the Office of Strategic Communications.

La Verne police urged the university community to be cautious.

"Students are encouraged to be aware of their surroundings and to contact the La Verne Police Department if they see any unusual activity on or near the campus," the department said in a statement.

Ruedas questioned whether the school and police are doing enough.

"This has happened since the beginning of the year. Why hasn't anyone been caught?" she said.

At this point, police don't have a suspect description and no arrest has been made.

Anyone with information related to this incident is asked to contact the La Verne Police Department.
Copyright © 2021 KABC-TV. All Rights Reserved.