Brunswick police: 'Copy-catting' a possibility in latest college assault claim

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BRUNSWICK — A 19-year-old female student at Bowdoin College reported being grabbed from behind by an unknown assailant while walking down Longfellow Avenue at 1:40 a.m. Sunday morning.

It is the second instance in a month of an unidentified man reportedly grabbing a female Bowdoin student walking at night. On Nov. 17, a student told police she had been grabbed from behind while walking toward campus on Potter Street. She broke free and called Campus Security and Brunswick police from a college-owned residence.

Just a week before, a student in college-owned Mayflower Apartments on Belmont Street reported she was raped in her room by an unidentified man.

Police Cmdr. Marc Hagan said in an interview Monday that the most recent attack is different than the previous two, because the victim was able to provide a description of her assailant.

The student told police that she was walking down Longfellow Avenue, near the intersection of Coffin Street, when she was approached by a man who then grabbed her around the waist.

According to the woman, the man appeared to be in his late 20s or early 30s, white, approximately 6 feet tall, with dark or brown hair and a thin build, Hagan said. He was wearing a dark, zippered hoodie.

Because his sleeves were rolled up, the student was able to see a tattoo on his left arm, Hagan added, but the woman could not describe it.

After the man grabbed her, the student elbowed him, broke free, and ran away. She made it to the Brunswick Apartments on Park Row.

From there, a friend drove her back to her residence, where her roommate called police and Bowdoin security at 2:17 a.m., according to police logs.

Speaking about the frequency of these events around the Bowdoin campus, Hagan said, “We haven’t had any similar complaints anywhere else in town.”

He said that copy-catting – criminal acts that are inspired by a previous crime – “could be a possibility” in these incidents.

Bowdoin College has improved lighting and building security in the weeks since the alleged Nov. 10 sexual assault. A student-created Facebook group called “Bowdoin Safe Walk,” which is used to facilitate people walking in groups, currently has almost 1,600 members.

At the college’s request, First Parish Church, which is across Bath Road from the campus, late last month evicted a sex offender support group that had been meeting at the church Tuesday nights.

No arrests have been made in any of the cases.

Police asked for anybody with information about any of the crimes to call the Brunswick Police Department at 725-5521.

Walter Wuthmann can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 100 or Follow Walter on Twitter: @wwuthmann.

Brunswick/Harpswell reporter for The Forecaster. Bowdoin College grad, San Francisco Bay Area native. Follow for municipal, school, community, and environmental news from the Midcoast.