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U Police: Dorm rape no longer being investigated as 'stranger assault'

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University of Minnesota police said Wednesday they are no longer investigating the weekend rape of a student in her dorm room as a "stranger assault."

A statement from the University Police Department said investigation found "no immediate and on-going threat to public safety related to the case." Vice President for University Services Pamela Wheelock sent a public safety update with the updated information.

The Minnesota Daily quoted UMPD Investigator Kevin Randolph, who told the campus paper the focus of the case shifted from a stranger investigation because of information provided by the victim.

The story said the 18-year-old female student told police she was in the hallway outside her room in Sanford Hall on the East Bank early Sunday morning when she met two men who walked her back to her room. One of them threatened her with a knife, then both raped her, she said.

The Star Tribune's story quoted Katie Eichele, director of the Aurora Center for Advocacy and Education, a crisis intervention group for victims of sexual assault at the U who said sexual assaults by strangers in dorms are “very rare.”

When assaults occur within residence halls, it’s almost always by an acquaintance, she noted.

University spokesman Tim Busse said the case was the first armed sexual assault of a student in a dorm that he can recall in his 15-year tenure.

The Pioneer Press reports investigators were reviewing 40 hours of surveillance video from the entrance area of the dorm to try to identify suspects. Sanford Hall is a coed dorm, but only women live on the floor where the rape was reported.

A university spokesman said no arrests have been made and the investigation is ongoing.

Since the start of the school year, at least 13 sexual assaults have been reported to campus police or publicized through U crime alerts.

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