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December 7-13, 2005

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News Briefs

By Patricia Lynn Henley

SSU, R.P. Rapes

A series of sexual assaults have occurred on and around Sonoma State University in Rohnert Park. "The attacks are unrelated, as far as we can tell," says campus police chief Nate Johnson. Five women have been raped; two cases involve suspects who were known to the victims. On Nov. 28, an 18-year-old was grabbed from behind and raped at a local apartment complex; Oct. 31, a student was grabbed from behind and raped in a campus parking lot; Oct. 29, a 20-year-old woman walking on East Cotati Avenue was robbed and raped; Oct. 12, an 18-year-old female was sexually assaulted at the Sonoma Grove Student Housing trailer park; and Aug. 31/Sept. 1, a student was raped in her room. There have been other incidents. Nov. 27, a female was grabbed from behind in a campus parking lot, but she was able to break away. Nov. 14, a student managed to evade an aggressive male; that same night, another woman was verbally harassed by two men in a parking lot. Johnson says this is highly unusual on a campus where crime statistics have always been low. "We're increasing patrols in all the parking lots and we're working collaboratively with the Rohnert Park Department of Public Safety." To request an on-campus police escort, call 707.664.2143. Cell-phone users should program that number into speed dial, Johnson says, since 911 calls from cell phones sometimes result in a busy signal.

No Vote Test

Watchdog group Black Box Voting charges that state officials reneged after inviting them to hack into electronic voting equipment. A representative for the secretary of state says testing will be done, but the details aren't set yet. At issue are Diebold Election Systems' touch-screen voting machines, which failed earlier California tests because of frozen screens and paper jams. Black Box was never officially notified that a proposed Nov. 30 test date was delayed, and the secretary of state's office has not responded to the group's last three communications, says Black Box spokeswoman Bev Harris. "We will probably be hiring a lawyer to handle the matter from this point forward." Testing details are still being worked out, says Nghia Nguyen, a spokeswoman for the secretary of state's office. "A date has not yet been determined. The secretary hopes to have it by the end of the year, but his priority is to make sure it's done right the first time," Nguyen said.


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