An 18-year-old Hofstra University student trying to retrieve a stolen cell phone was lured into a dormitory men’s room and sexually assaulted by five men, police said Tuesday.
Four suspects, including one Hofstra student who worked part-time with campus security, have been arraigned on rape and other charges. A fifth suspect was still at-large Tuesday.
Detective Lt. John Allen of the Nassau County special victims squad said the rape occurred on the Hempstead campus at about 3 a.m. Sunday.
According to police, the woman had been at a dance party at an on-campus nightclub and after dancing with one of the suspects, the man snatched the woman’s cell phone from her and left the club. She pursued him outside, repeatedly asking for the phone back, Allen said.
The man then entered a dormitory and went into an elevator as the woman followed him, police said. The two got out at an undisclosed floor, where the man met an acquaintance. According to police, the pair then proceeded to bind the woman’s hands with some rope and took her into a dormitory men’s room, where they sexually assaulted her. Three men later entered the room. The woman pleaded with the newcomers for help, but they also sexually assault her “one by one,” police said.
Allen would not say how long the ordeal took place, but said the woman immediately reported the incident to campus police. Officers investigating later Sunday morning arrested a man matching the description of a suspect. Three others were subsequently arrested.
Only one of the five, Rondell Bedward, 21, of the Bronx, is a Hofstra student. Police say he “signed in” the other four as his guests in the dormitory for the weekend.
Melissa Connolly, Hofstra’s vice president for university relations, said Bedward — a Hofstra junior — had worked part-time with the campus public safety department, checking in visitors to residences. But she said he was not working when his own guests checked into the dormitory.
The other three arrested were identified as Jesus Ortiz and Stalin Felipe, both 19 from the Bronx, and Kevin Taveras, 20, of Brentwood. All four suspects were ordered held on $350,000 cash bail.
Ortiz, Felipe and Bedward were represented by attorneys from Legal Aid, which has a policy of not commenting on pending cases. Attorney Victor Daly-Rivera of the Bronx, who represents Taveras, did not immediately return a call for comment, but he told reporters outside court that his client was “not guilty of what he’s accused of.”
Both Connolly and police declined to identify the name of the dormitory where the woman was reportedly attacked, citing concerns for her privacy.
“Our first priority is to ensure that the victim of this crime receives all available support, counseling and services, and that our entire community understands that sexual offenses of any type are not tolerated,” Connolly said.
The university set up a hotline for concerned parents and planned forums in all residence halls Tuesday night to talk about student concerns and “dispel rumors.” Public safety patrols of residence halls were increased in response to the attack.
Connolly said the campus policy was followed for Bedward’s guests, noting they had left their IDs at the desk. Students typically are permitted to sign in up to four guests, and guests are required to leave their IDs at the front desk while visiting.
She also said the campus nightclub, Hofstra USA, serves beer and wine, but students must show IDs proving they are 21 or older.
Copyright 2009 The Associated Press.