Sexual assault involving date rape drugs reported near University of Denver

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DENVER -- The Denver Police Department is investigating after a University of Denver student reported being drugged and raped over the weekend.

The university sent out campus safety alerts to students via email and social media on Monday evening when officials were notified of the investigation.

According to the alert, “Campus safety received a report that a student was raped and that the crime involved date-rape drugs."

The alleged rape happened Saturday night at a location off campus but nearby. A University of Denver spokeswoman couldn’t comment on the case, citing the active investigation.

“It's terrifying,” junior Alexandra Aghishian said.

Aghishian said the entire community needs to be warned as well.

“It’s a big deal and it's a big problem that's going on in our country right now,” she said. “And it needs to be taken care of.”

“They talked about it in my sorority … that a girl was drugged off campus,” student Becca Kalinsky said. “That could happen to anyone, you never know.

“It kind of doesn't make me feel safe,” freshman Akachi Ajiere said. “But I'm more concerned about my female friends.”

According to the Department of Campus Safety, 17 sexual assaults were reported on or near campus in 2014, up from 12 in 2013. It’s not clear how many of those cases involved reports of date-rape drugs being used.

University officials urge students and the community to look out for each other.

“At DU, we really emphasize thinking about bystander intervention,” said Gillian Kaag, the director of the DU Center for Advocacy, Prevention and Empowerment. “And we think that it’s most effective when we think about ‘how do we look out for one another and how do we create a community where we watch each other’s back?’ And so rather than thinking about ‘what are you doing with your drink - how do we look out for one another and make sure that our friends are safe and we’re safe?’”

Kaag said her department offers support to victims and also trains students to be more vigilant.

“Be aware,” Kaag said. “Observe your situation. Size up your options. Speak up and act.”

Anyone with information is asked to call the Denver Police Department sex crimes unit at 720-913-6040.

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