University of Utah police suspend campus rape investigation: say no evidence a crime occurred

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A parking lot at the U of U where a student reported an alleged rape.

SALT LAKE CITY — More than a month after a report of a sexual assault on campus at the University of Utah, authorities are suspending the case as they say there is not enough evidence to corroborate the details reported by the alleged victim.

University of Utah police said back in October they were looking for a suspect after a female student reported she was raped at gunpoint by a suspect in the parking lot of the Merrill Engineering Building. 

Chief Dale Brophy of the University of Utah Police provided an update on the case Tuesday, saying they are suspending the investigation after being unable to find evidence sufficient to verify the report given by the victim.

Brophy said that during the last five weeks they processed evidence from the scene, reviewed footage from multiple cameras, and interviewed the owners of hundreds of vehicles that were parked in the lot that day.

The statement stressed that police are not doubting that the victim may have experienced something terrible at some point in her life, but they said at this time there is not enough evidence to indicate that a crime occurred at the place, time and date reported by the woman.

Brophy said the case could be made active again if more evidence is found or if other witnesses come forward.

President David Pershing expressed his gratitude for the efforts from the public safety officers at U of  U. He also said, while it is frustrating that this case did not end with a clear resolution, he believes it will still help them strengthen their resolve to spur positive change.

“As I have said before, violence has no place on our campus, and sexual assault threatens the safety of students on campuses across the country, including our own,” Pershing stated. “We know it is a crime that is underreported throughout our society, and that is why all of us—administrators, faculty, police, staff, counselors, and friends—must keep listening and responding to concerns.”

The full statement from Brophy as provided by the U of U is below:

“When investigating sexual assaults, we start by believing the victim, complete a thorough investigation, and follow the evidence. Over the past five weeks, our detective unit has spent hundreds of hours working on the report. With help from state crime lab personnel, we have processed evidence from the scene. We have reviewed footage from multiple area cameras and interviewed the owners of hundreds of vehicles parked in the lot on that day, and no leads emerged. At this time our department is not able to determine that an incident consistent with the report given occurred at the Merrill Engineering Building parking lot that day.

We are not calling into question that this person may have experienced something terrible at some point in her life, but we are not able to find evidence that a crime occurred at the place, date, and time reported. We are not closing this case; we are suspending it until more evidence becomes available or until someone comes forward with additional information.”