Student reports rape at UT during Gasparilla

Police are investigating. Students were not informed until long after the incident occurred.

Published February 17, 2007

TAMPA - Tampa police are investigating a reported rape in a University of Tampa dormitory on January 27 during the Gasparilla parade.

Police are searching for a man whose blurry image was captured by a dorm security camera.

The woman, whose name authorities are not releasing because she is a victim of sexual battery, "had gotten very intoxicated at the parade and became separated from her friends," said Tampa police spokeswoman Laura McElroy.

Then she met the man, who walked her back to her dorm, McElroy said. The victim invited him to her room, where the assault took place.

The victim's roommate walked in during the act, and the man left, McElroy said.

UT's student body was not informed of the incident until long after it occurred, even though police had pictures of the man.

The photos were not immediately released because of an ongoing police investigation, McElroy said.

"Because of the leads that they had generated, they didn't want the suspect to know that they had a picture," she said.

Initially, police were unsure that a crime had been committed because the woman was so intoxicated, she said.

It appeared to be a case of date rape at first, she said, because "she had willingly brought him back to her dorm."

But after interviewing the victim and the witness the next day, detectives concluded it was a case of sexual battery.

Grant Donaldson, a spokesman for UT, was apologetic about the lateness of releasing information about the attack.

He blamed it on a glitch by campus security, which erroneously listed the incident only as "confidential" in its public record, although police were notified.

"This time line was not satisfactory," Donaldson said.