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Buffalo State student cleared of sexual assault charges

WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley

On February 22, 2016, the Erie County District Attorney informed 1 7-year-old Elijah Bethel of Troy, New York, that a grand jury "dismissed the charges" against him in an alleged sexual assault case on SUNY Buffalo State's campus. 

Days after students moved into campus dorms the police reported an incident occurred in one of the buildings.

Colleges begin classes this week under the state's new 'Enough is Enough' law in response to the high rates of campus sexual assaults. But early Friday morning a female student reported the incident occurred in     her Porter Hall dorm room.

"A person entered her room and touched the intimate parts of her body. She screamed and offered resistance and the suspect fled the room," said Buffalo State Campus Police Chief Peter Carey.

Carey tells WBFO News police later located the suspect identified by the victim.

"The victim gave us a description of the suspect. Shortly there after we found someone matching that description.  The victim positively identified the person as the person who had committed the assault on her," stated Chief Carey.

Credit WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley
Outside Porter Hall where the alleged attempted attack occurred.

The suspect, Bethel, also resides at Porter Hall. He was arraigned in Buffalo City Court. He was charged as an adult with with sexual abuse, forcible touching and burglary. Buff State and SUNY schools offer a number of programs to generate awareness to this problem. But the charges have been dropped and the case dismissed.

 "Normally average in the four to six range of crimes that are reported to us," said Chief Carey.

Chief Carey said in 2013 there were six reported sexual assaults reported to the campus police. The college is still waiting for the 2014 numbers to be processed.  

Chief Carey notes most of the cases reported at Buff State involve student to student or someone the victim knows.  

Credit WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley
Inside Porter Hall at Buffalo State a 'Welcome Board' was set up for move-in day.

"They typically occur in the residence halls involving someone they know or they have been acquainted with," noted Chief Carey.

The following is the campus alert Buffalo State issued following the reported incident:

Attempted Sexual Assault Friday Morning in Porter Hall, Suspect in Custody

August 28, 2015
In compliance with the federal Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act of 1998, Buffalo State’s University Police Department is notifying the campus community of an attempted sexual assault that occurred early Friday morning in Porter Hall, an on-campus residence hall. The victim has positively identified and University Police has arrested the suspect.

At approximately 3:21 a.m. Friday morning, a female Buffalo State student reported to University Police that a male entered her dorm room in Porter Hall. The suspect forcibly touched the victim during a short struggle, but the victim screamed, forcing the suspect leave the room. Shortly after a call was made to University Police to report the incident, officers arrested the suspect, who is also a Buffalo State student who resides in Porter Hall. The victim, who is under the care of appropriate medical and counseling professionals, has positively identified the suspect.

Sexual assault can happen anywhere, at any time, to anyone, male or female. If you are the victim of a sexual assault, you are encouraged to contact University Police at (716) 878-6333 immediately and seek medical attention. An on-campus advocate from the Counseling Center may be notified for immediate emergency assistance. A report to University Police can empower the accuser by exercising her/his legal rights and can aid in the protection of others.

More information about a victim’s rights can be found online or by contacting Dr. Karen Clinton-Jones, Chief Diversity Officer and Title IX Coordinator, at joneska@buffalostate.edu or (716) 878-6210

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