The Princeton Police Department will continue to investigate an incident of lewdness that occurred near campus at 5:30 p.m. on Monday, May 7, according to Princeton Police Department Chief Nicholas Sutter.
On May 7, a naked man exposed himself to a female student while she was running on the towpath, between Harrison Street and Washington Road.
Although he was unwilling to discuss specific investigative techniques, Sutter said that the Princeton Police Department is talking to people and questioning people in the area. Sutter said the Police Department is open to receiving any information members of the public may have.
“We’re definitely looking for the public’s assistance in providing any information to us,” Sutter said. “We’ll be interviewing people in the area and trying to ascertain the person’s identity through witnesses.”
The identity of the perpetrator is still unknown. The report described the suspect as an adult white male, 20 to 30 years of age, 5’8’’ to 5’9’’, skinny build, approximately 150 to 160 pounds, with short blond hair.
In recent years, there have been two similar lewd incidents in areas surrounding campus.
A similar lewd incident involving a man occurred on the towpath in October 2015, and another lewd incident occurred next to a cemetery in West Windsor Fields in 2011. Sutter said that, although very few incidents have occurred on campus within his department's jurisdiction, receiving the May 7 report was not unusual.
“Unfortunately, they’re not uncommon. They’re too common,” Sutter said. “We do experience them from time to time; I don’t know for the University campus itself, but we get them occasionally within our jurisdiction.”
The Daily Princetonian reached out to students who regularly run on the towpath to get their reaction to the incident. All students expressed surprised at the news. Some said they treated the news the same as other campus alerts. Others said the May 7 incident made them very upset.
“Just imagining it was very strange to me,” said Ben Angarone ’21. “I could never imagine myself in that guy’s spot, thinking, yes, I’ll do that.”
Katharine Schassler ’21 was first told of the incident by a friend warning her to be careful before going out on the towpath.
“I was in disbelief at first that this is something that could happen right down campus,” Schassler said. “I was just upset, thinking, ‘really?’ We can’t just go for a run?”
Despite their initial reactions, students said they would not let this incident interfere with their running habits in any way and would continue to exercise the same caution they always do.
“I’m not gonna let this incident stop my routine of running on the towpath,” Angarone said. “I wouldn’t let it disturb me to the point of changing my routine.”
Angarone and Schassler both emphasized that people they know are generally smart about where and how they run, always making sure they have their phones and that people are aware of their general location.
Sutter said that should any students experience any similar incidents, they should notify either the Department of Public Safety or the Princeton Police Department.
“The most important piece is that people don’t ignore it and call us, either as it’s happening or after it happens,” Sutter said.
The student reported the incident at 11:05 a.m. to the Princeton Police Department on May 9, prompting an email alert released by the Department of Public Safety that same day.