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‘Profoundly disturbing’: Fitchburg State University police investigate sexual assault reported by student

The student reportedly said a man approached her in the campus library and talked to her before assaulting her.

Fitchburg State University police are investigating a sexual assault that was reported by a student, according to a letter from the university’s president. 

“The assault reported in our campus library was profoundly disturbing,” President Richard Lapidus wrote in a letter to the campus community Monday. “Please know a comprehensive investigation remains very active, with our University Police working in close collaboration with other public safety agencies.” 

The student reported that a man believed to be around 19 years old approached her in the library on Oct. 4 between 10:30 a.m. and 11:30 a.m., The Boston Globe reported. Officials said the man talked to the student before initiating “physical contact that escalated into sexual assault.”


The student said the man was around 5-foot-5 with a thin build and had “an accent of undetermined origin,” the Globe reported. Police were notified of the assault over the weekend and began investigating. 

Other female students told police they had recently been approached by a man with a similar description at other campus locations, the Globe reported. 

“Although there are details we cannot share with the public out of concern for compromising [the] investigation, be assured that all avenues are being pursued,” Lapidus wrote. “We are also attending to the well-being of the student who made this report, to whom I am grateful for stepping forward.”

There will be a heightened police presence on campus in the coming days, the university president said. 

“I am aware of concerns about public access to the campus in light of this incident. Please understand that Fitchburg State is a public institution, with resources that have always been meant to be accessible to members of the wider community,” Lapidus wrote. “While this alarming incident has raised understandable concerns, it is important to remember how rare such instances are.”

Lapidus cited the university’s annual security report, which says that four instances of rape were reported as having happened on campus in 2020, and two more were reported in 2022. 


“It’s just frustrating that we have to worry about what’s going to happen even when we’re in the library when we just want to be studying,” senior Kailey Norton told WCVB.

Lapidus said the university would keep the community updated as the investigation unfolds. 

Anyone with information relevant to the investigation is asked to contact university police at 978-665-3111.


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