FORT COLLINS, Colo. (CBS4) – A woman was sexually assaulted on the Colorado State University campus and police are searching for the suspect.
The assault happened late Thursday night near College Avenue and Pitkin Street in Fort Collins. It was the second attack in that area this school year. The first attack occurred in mid-September. In both cases they happened at Jack Christensen track at night by a man wearing a ski mask.
Campus police sent out an emergency text message that stated, “Within the last 1/2 hour there was a sexual assault that occurred at the Jack Christensen Field.”
The woman was apparently walking along the track when she was attacked.
“She reported that this man attacked her, approached her from behind while she was walking on the track. She did say he had a knife,” CSU spokesperson Mike Hooker said.
The victim described her attacker as a large man wearing a brown Carhartt-style jacket, work boots, jeans and a black ski mask.
“You know it could happen to anyone, it’s not just one person,” freshman Kseniya Walcott said.
In the similar attack on Sept. 13 a male victim reported an attempted sexual assault near the same track. That victim was attacked by a man with a similar description also wearing a ski mask.
According to CSU crime statistics, there were 12 sexual assaults on campus in 2012, up from four in 2011.
The latest attack is sparking a new investigation into the safety of the Jack Christensen area.
“When something like this happens, clearly the police are investigating and we’re going to take a serious look at that area and what safety considerations there might be,” Hooker said.
CSU police are looking into the connection between the two similar cases but the investigation is ongoing.
“You have to be more aware for your safety now that you know that this does happen on campus close to home,” Walcott said.
Police say the increase in sexual assaults on campus is not necessarily a reflection of an increase in violence there, rather they’re encouraging more people to come forward in the event of an attack.
The campus has several emergency call boxes and a safe walk system where students can call for a safe escort around campus at night.