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Updated: 8:59 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 28, 2014 | Posted: 10:48 a.m. Tuesday, Jan. 28, 2014

Wittenberg student accused of campus sex attack


Belule Ayele photo
Courtesy/Springfield Police Division
Belule Ayele

By Breaking News Staff and Tiffany Y. Latta


A Wittenberg student is charged with attempted rape and aggravated burglary after investigators said he broke into a university-owned house and forced himself on a female student.

On Jan. 16, the woman stated that she was sleeping when someone came into the room, ripped the covers off her bed and climbed into bed with her nude.

She said she was able to get away from the suspect, later identified as Belule A. Ayele, 21, and went into a roommate's bedroom, where they called police. The woman's roommate told police she told the suspect to get out of the apartment, at which point he replied, "Satan, sit down," according to the arrest report.

The woman suffered bruising on her left shin when she fell trying to get away from Ayele. She declined medical attention.

Ayele has pleaded not guilty to the charges. He has been ordered to surrender his passport and stay off the Wittenberg campus.

The assault allegation comes as increased national attention has been placed on college sexual assaults. President Barack Obama signed a presidential memorandum this month to create a task force to protect students from such assaults.

The task force is expected to come up with recommendations for colleges to prevent and respond to sexual assault, increase public awareness of each school's track record and enhance coordination among federal agencies to hold schools accountable if they don't confront the problem.

On Ohio campuses, 200 forcible rapes were reported in 2012, according to the Campus Safety and Security Data Analysis Cutting Tool. That rate is nearly double what it was a decade earlier.

Wittenberg University reported 10 forcible sexual assaults on campus in 2012, compared to 12 at Wright State University, 17 at Miami University and 21 at Ohio State University.

Tuesday, Wittenberg University officials released a statement after being contacted by the Springfield News-Sun.

"The university takes reports of sexual misconduct very seriously and works diligently to incorporate best practices for higher education institutions into its daily work," Karen Gerboth, a spokeswoman for the university, said in the statement.

"Our policies and procedures are reviewed annually along with services provided to students. Further, we have a comprehensive plan to educate various campus constituents on how all members of our community play a role in preventing sexual assault and creating a culture that supports positive, healthy relationships," Gerboth said.

Wittenberg has a full-service police and security agency that has developed a partnership with the campus, local police and the Clark County community, she said.

"The Wittenberg Police Department also provides an annual campus safety report that describes the array of services and programs we have in place to keep our campus community safe," Gerboth said in the statement.

Gerboth declined to provide additional information about the suspect or if he remains a student at the university, citing the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act.

Asked about potential disciplinary action, Gerboth advised that Wittenberg can hold a student responsible for violating its Student Code of Conduct and Ethics through its internal processes.

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