Alleged rape near “safe” area causes students to re-think

Over the weekend an Ohio State University student reported to police she was kidnapped and raped at knifepoint. The alleged crime happened in an area considered safe by some students. But now those students are taking extra precautions.

Columbus police said shortly after 11 Saturday night, a 19-year-old woman was forced to withdraw money from an automated teller machine near 11th Avenue and High Street. The OSU student told police she was then taken elsewhere and raped.

The 11th Avenue and High Street area has recently been revamped – with new stores, restaurants and condominiums. But the new look might have created a false sense of security for students.

OSU architectural student Noah Mabry thought the area was safe, especially on weekends.

“Before they rebuilt the Gateway it was, you would expect things like that to happen. But now that they’ve, you know, redone everything, there’s a lot of people down here during the weekends. It’s a high traffic area now, you really don’t expect that kind of thing to happen, I guess on a regular basis, or at all,” Mabry said.

But just to be safe Mabry drives a friend and classmate home when they work after dark at the architecture school.

OSU law student Erica Berencsi lives in an apartment several blocks south of the Gateway area. She said she’s walked in the area alone after dark. Berencsi thought Columbus was safe. At least safer than Washington, D.C. where she used to live. But she’s changed her thinking.

“Now I know I definitely wouldn’t. Not even with like a friend or two. I’ll just take the bus or I’ll take a cab. Or I’ll just stay where I need to stay instead of risking it. I think that I was just not paying attention to the realities of what’s going on,” Berencsi said.

Sarah Exten is an OSU law student. Exten said she’s not one to walk alone, especially at night.

“I mean there’s risks any time you go out alone. No matter where you are, it doesn’t matter if you’re on campus or off campus. It’s just a matter of what precautions to take to subside the risk,” Exten said.

So will Exten change her behavior?

“I might take a cab more often, but other than that, I’ve been doing this for six years now, so. I’ve, I mean, I’m pretty comfortable here. I know how to handle myself when I am alone,” Exten said.

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