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The Indiana Daily Student

crime & courts

Three separate incidents bring police to Franklin Hall in 1 week

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Editor’s Note: This story includes mention of sexual assault. Resources are available here.
Police have responded to three incidents in and around Franklin Hall, home to IU’s Media School, in the first three weeks of the school year. 

The first incident took place Aug. 30 when a caller reported seeing a man chase two women with a knife through Sample Gates. The situation ended with no one harmed, and Bloomington Police took the man in custody on charges of intimidation with a deadly weapon and possession of a controlled substance.  

Just one day later, police returned to Franklin Hall. Indiana University Police responded to a call around 4:30 p.m. Aug. 31 reporting a man was not wearing any pants on the second floor of the building, IUPD Public Information Officer Hannah Skibba said. The man, later identified as a Bloomington resident not affiliated with IU, now faces one charge of indecent exposure. The prosecutor in the case also filed for a charge of public nudity, according to court filings.  

[Related: Bloomington police arrest man wielding knife on IU’s campus

IUPD also issued a 5-year trespass warning, meaning the man will not be allowed on any IU property until Aug. 31, 2028. If found violating the trespass warning, he could face charges of criminal trespassing.  

The third incident occurred Tuesday around 5 p.m. when IUPD responded to a report of man stalking a student, Skibba said. The man has not yet been found.  

Master's student Raquel Arias Labrador entered Franklin Hall through the side door on Indiana Avenue on Tuesday, as she does most days. Upon entering the building, she said she saw a man with both of his hands in his pants, masturbating.  

She avoided eye contact and headed up the stairs to the stacks, but the man followed her.  

As she sat at a desk working, he approached her to ask for help with the copier, she said. Arias Labrador refused to help, and he left.  

A few minutes later, she said he approached her from behind. This time he did not speak, but Arias Labrador watched from the reflection in her computer screen as he silently touched himself while standing behind her. She recalls a sinking pit forming in her stomach as she looked around at the empty offices surrounding them.  

“That was the worst part because, at that point, I realized there were no cameras and I was alone,” Arias Labrador said.  

Arias Labrador said it appeared he was on drugs due to his red eyes and shaky movements. She told him his behavior was “inappropriate” and “creepy.” Again, he retreated, and she tried to refocus on her work. Again, he returned. This time, Arias Labrador yelled.  

“I was alone, and I felt powerless,” Arias Labrador said. “There was nobody else there, so if the guy turned physically violent, nobody could have heard what was happening.” 

Arias Labrador found her professor, Lisa Lenoir, in her office. The two women locked themselves inside the office and called for help. Arias Labrador said she remembers thinking how insane it is for them to be forced to hide in their own workplace.  

“That is supposed to be a space where you can go and work but if these kinds of things are happening, how are we supposed to feel safe working there?” Arias Labrador said. 

IUPD responded to the 911 call placed by another professor just before 5 p.m. Tuesday, Public Information Officer Hannah Skibba said. Officers located the suspect near an exit on the first floor and told him to stop, but he ran towards Kirkwood Avenue and Grant Street. Officers lost sight of him, and he got away, Skibba said.  

The suspect’s identity is currently unknown, but Skibba said he was described as a 5' 10" light-skinned black male with a slender build and medium-length curly brown hair wearing shorts and a blue backpack. 

Although the suspect has not been found, Arias Labrador said she plans to reclaim control of the situation by advocating for increased security measures at Franklin Hall.   

“My way to deal with the situation is trying to be in control of what happened and trying to own my own experience and voice,” Arias Labrador said. 

[Related: 2 sexual batteries reported in on-campus dorms this month

After meeting with Media School faculty to discuss the situation, Arias Labrador said she felt disheartened. She said one faculty member told her to use the front door instead of side doors, which she felt placed unfair responsibility on students to remain vigilant in a building that is supposed to be a safe place to learn.  

“Am I supposed to be aware of danger that shouldn’t be there when I am walking to my workplace? Arias Labrador said. “It shouldn’t be on me.” 

Arias Labrador said she wants the Franklin Hall doors to remain locked throughout the day, with students scanning their CrimsonCards to unlock them. She also pointed out some rooms in Franklin Hall, including the Arnolt Center for Investigative Journalism’s newsroom, already require scanning a CrimisonCard to enter.  

The Media School sent an email to students, faculty and staff Wednesday addressing the incidents and stating it plans to review its security protocols. This marked the first email sent about any of the three incidents.  

“There is no ongoing threat, and no one was physically harmed, but we wanted to make our school communities aware of these recent incidents in the interests of everyone’s safety and transparency,” the email read. “Your safety and the school’s security are very important to us. We — the deans and senior staff — are consulting with IUPD and the Office of Public Safety to evaluate our security protocols and consider how we can make our building safer.” 

However, Arias Labrador said she was not satisfied with the Media School’s response.  

“I feel like they are treating this like an isolated event, but it’s not,” Arias Labrador said. “It’s something that has been happening for a while.” 

[Related: In the wake of the tragedy at Michigan State, what is IU’s safety protocol?

Arias Labrador took particular issue with the Media School claiming there is no current threat because the doors remain unlocked while the man who harassed her has not yet been found. Security measures must be taken before one of the incidents does finally result in harm, she said.

“So, what is going to take then?” Arias Labrador said. “I don’t know what they are waiting for.”  

Darla Crawford, the assistant building manager of Franklin Hall, sits at the building’s front desk every day.

The building’s location on Kirkwood Avenue means non-students often enter the building, Crawford said. 

She said she supports keeping all side doors to Franklin Hall locked. She also said she would like to see a more efficient way to communicate potential dangers with students, staff and other IU buildings.

“I feel exhausted,” Crawford said. “Now I feel like I am watching everywhere for someone to be crazy and come in here indecent. It’s been a real eye-opener. It’s scary.”

Mia Hilkowitz, Andrew Miller, Luke Price and Madelyn Hanes contributed to this report.
A list of resources is available here if you or someone you know has experienced sexual harassment or abuse.
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