By Miharu Sugie, News Staff
Claudia Frau, a sophomore communications and business major, was walking down Boylston Street while listening to music with her earphones. It was on Sept. 6, when a tall, slim, blonde, white man in his 20s wearing “dressy, black shiny shoes” approached her and called out to her that she was pretty. Frau recalled the man introduced himself casually and “was trying to rub it in” that he was doing his residency at Tufts. Other than that, Frau said that he was “definitely not out of the ordinary.”
After a casual chat, Frau and the man exchanged numbers and he kept asking her out for coffee via text. A week or so later, the two met up for coffee at Pavement Coffeehouse but the man claimed he forgot his pager and asked Frau to go home with him to look for his pager. Upon arriving near his home, she said he grabbed her arm. Surprised, she offered to wait outside for him to retrieve his pager, but the man pressed her to come inside, claiming he wanted to show her something.
“And you know when they tell you, ‘I want to show you something,’ it’s a red flag,” Frau said. “So I told him I’m really sorry, I have a reservation, not really … and I start walking down the stairs, and he grabs me by my jacket. And he’s like, ‘why are you leaving so soon? Don’t you want to stay?’ And I was so creeped out by that.”
Confused and panicked, Frau said she left the man’s home promptly and called her friend to pick her up.
Frau’s experience is less unusual than it sounds. According to a Jan. 10 email from the university, a man in his 20s, who identifies himself as a medical professional at Tufts Medical School living on Newbury Street, has attempted to sexually assault several young females, including Northeastern students, since last summer.
According to the same email the Northeastern University Division of Public Safety (NUPD) sent to students, the man is not affiliated with the university and has not been caught. The Boston Police Sexual Assault Unit is investigating the reports. They declined to be interviewed for this story.
Frau hasn’t seen the man since their initial interaction, but when she came across NUPD’s email warning students and an anonymous post about the man on the Northeastern Compliments Facebook page, she knew it was him.
“I’ve been holding onto this for so long, I really wanted to talk to someone, especially since it also happened to them,” Frau said.
Another student, a middler behavioral neuroscience major who requested anonymity to protect her identity, was also approached by the same man last July, when she was exiting the Apple store on Boylston Street. She said she thought it was odd that the man approached her so quickly and emphasized he was a surgeon in what seemed like his first breath.
Like he did with Frau, the man asked the middler if she would like to drink coffee with him, since he lives on Newbury Street. After declining his offer, the student said she returned to the Apple store two hours later for a different reason, and found the man was in the same spot talking to a different girl. Although Frau described the man as slim and tall, the anonymous middler described him as a little heavy set and average height.
Frau said that her decision to meet up with the man may have been “stupid,” and she felt “so horrible” when she read NUPD’s email.
Although many victims may feel that they are at fault, Meg Bossong, manager of community engagement at the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center, said that the end result of these situations is not the fault of the victim. Bossong said there is often a wrong perception that the victim of sexual assault is doing something wrong. Rather than reprimand the victim, Bossong said it is vital to change the behavior and mindset of the perpetrator, influencing them not to desire to hurt someone.
Frau and the middler both contacted NUPD about their experiences soon after the department reached out to students via email.
“I don’t think you should go around blaming people for not being careful enough around strangers because statistically speaking they are more likely to be raped, assaulted, murdered etc. by someone they know rather than by a stranger,” the middler said. “This is a matter of a guy misleading and taking advantage of girls. I really hope that this guy gets what he deserves.”
If students would like to have any kind of support, counseling or information, Bossong recommends students to go to barcc.org or call BARCC’s 24-hour hotline at (800) 841-8371.