Castleton police are investigating an alleged sexual assault that is said to have taken place in the early hours of Sept. 8 in the southeast section of the parking lot on South Street. The crime log kept by the Castleton State College Public Safety Department states that its office was notified of the incident at 3:15 a.m., about 15 minutes after it occurred.
Castleton Police Chief Bruce Sherwin wouldn’t comment on specific details of the case because the investigation is ongoing, but he did say that any arrest, if warranted, will take some time.
“The lab results could take up to three to four weeks to get back,” Sherwin said. “Interviews and statements are also a part of the investigation.”
According to Public Safety Director Bob Godlewski, the incident started at an off campus party before ending up in the parking lot commonly referred to as “Africa”.
Word of the alleged sexual assault has spread across campus and spawned rumors that there have been additional sexual assault incidents. School officials, however, are denying that any other incidents have occurred.
“This alleged incident is the first of its kind since last year,” said Dean of Students, Greg Stone. “There is no rash of sexual assaults going on.”
Stone also attempted to allay students’ fears by saying that this is an isolated incident and that they need not fear that a sexual predator is on the loose.
“We’re investigating an incident between two people,” Stone said. “The parking lot didn’t cause this incident . it didn’t occur as an act of someone coming out of the bushes.”
The gravel parking lot sits directly off South Street about a quarter mile south of the public safety building. The lot, which is about the size of a football field, was without adequate lighting until last week.
Friday, a portable light unit was brought in to help illuminate the dark area, but it’s just a temporary fix until the lot is renovated next spring with pavement, parking lines and permanent lighting.
According to Stone, the temporary light has been in the plans since last year but was delayed because the school needed the town to sign off on the paperwork.
A guard shack will also be placed at the entrance to the parking lot and will be manned by officers, but that too has been in the plans prior to the incident, Godlewski said.
However, the new lights have done little to help settle the nerves of Castleton students like freshman Danielle Knapp, who are forced to use the parking lot late at night.
Knapp said she hates parking in the South Street lot and avoids it at all costs.
“I have the guys park my car for me down there when it’s dark out,” Knapp said. “I don’t feel safe enough at night.