Two female graduate students were victims of indecent assaults within 15 minutes of each other last Friday (Feb. 6), in and near Harvard Yard, according to Harvard University Police.
Police said that the first incident occurred at about 8:30 p.m. on Holyoke Street near 24 Mount Auburn St. The victim was approached from the opposite direction by a man walking a mountain bike, who then groped her.
The second incident occurred at about 8:45 p.m. in Harvard Yard between Thayer and Canaday halls and the Memorial Church. The victim told police a man riding a mountain bike approached her from behind, rode past her, reversed direction and groped her when riding past again.
The second victim described her assailant as a white male with a pale complexion and dark, wavy, shoulder-length hair, stocky build, wide face, in his late teens or early 20s, and wearing a baseball cap and bright-colored clothing. The first victim was unable to provide a detailed description but said her assailant was about 5 feet, 10 inches tall and wearing a hat.
The first incident is under investigation by the Cambridge Police Department. The second incident is under investigation by the Harvard University Police Department (HUPD).
Harvard police said that they have responded to these and previous incidents by dramatically increasing the number of both uniformed and plainclothes officers on duty during evening hours and at night. Those officers are increasing the police presence on paths and high traffic areas used by students after sunset.
To date, there have been two arrests connected with previous assaults: one in November, when Cambridge Police reported that a homeless man claimed responsibility for two of the incidents. On Jan. 20, Cambridge Police, working in cooperation with the Harvard University Police Department, arrested a suspect who identified himself as Geremias Cruz Ramos of Revere. Ramos was arrested in connection with an indecent assault on a female graduate student on Mount Auburn Street.
Ramos, who remains in custody, was a contract custodial employee of Sodexho USA, which provides cleaning services for the University and was assigned to University Health Services. According to testimony by a Cambridge Police Department detective, Ramos has since said he was involved in as many as 120 similar assaults. He has also been charged with a second offense, after a second Harvard victim identified him as her alleged assailant. University Health Services has informed Sodexho that it will require the company to do background checks on all its employees before assigning them to work on the Harvard campus.
Harvard Police said the latest incident serves to remind the Harvard community that they must be vigilant at all times and take appropriate precautions, such as walking with others and traveling along designated pathways.