Police probing possible assault

Temple Police are still investigating the alleged assault of a Drexel University student that happened west of Main Campus around midnight on Saturday, March 12.

Gabrielle Richardson, a junior design and merchandising major at Drexel, said partygoers physically and verbally assaulted her at a backyard party on Bouvier Street near Oxford. A group of male students at a party in the yard next door began shouting at her through a hole in the fence separating the two properties.

“I asked them if one could bum me a cigarette and they said, ‘only if you suck our d–ks,’” Richardson said. Then, she said, one of the men threw his drink at her.

Richardson, who is African-American, said she confronted the men, who continued to yell racially charged insults at her, including calling her a “B—h-a– Harriet Tubman” and the N-word.

“We made contact with owners of both properties, either side because there were simultaneous parties going on,” said Temple Police Capt. Edward Woltemate in the Investigations Unit. “And at that point it seemed the individuals we spoke to had knowledge that an incident took place but I think a lot of them knew about it based on the social media post that they had read. We didn’t come across any eye-witnesses that heard or saw what occurred.”

After reporting the incident to Temple and Philadelphia police, Richardson said she went home and posted her story on Facebook.

Richardson said she posted the story online because she is an “activist by trade.”

“Who am I if I can’t stand up for myself?” she said. “I’m very for the protection and safety of women and people of color.”

The post has been shared 466 times as of Monday night, including on the Temple University Class of 2017 page.

Gabrielle Vinogradov, a junior journalism major, posted the story to the class of 2017 page, and said it was her “natural instinct.”

“When I saw she wrote that status, and because I’m big on feminism and wanted to spread awareness, it was my natural instinct to get her justice,” Vinogradov said. She added that she messaged Richardson and made sure the events had been reported to Temple Police.

“My initial thought was, ‘S–t, that could have been me,” Vinogradov said. “This isn’t rare. It happens all the time.”

Richardson’s Facebook post did not include the details of what was said to her, but she included the address of the party the men were attending.

“[Posting the address] made it more real,” Richardson said. “I didn’t think anything of it. It was creating an environment where they felt okay calling me a b—h-a– Harriet Tubman. That’s a dangerous thought process, and I want people to be warned.”

A Temple student who lives at the address that was hosting the party said the assault was not from his housemates. He declined to give his name or other identifying information.

“This person put my address on blast,” he said. “Now people have a preconception of the house and the people who live here. I wasn’t even at the party, and [my housemates], they’re decent people.”

Richardson said the men who yelled at her told her they were from La Salle University, University of Pennsylvania and Widener University. The one who threw his drink at Richardson was a Temple student, she said.

“The challenge mainly was trying to identify who actually did what,” Woltemate said. “The victim even said that at this point it would be tough for her to identify anyone. So, we were trying to get the identification of these individuals from other people at the party and we haven’t been too successful yet with that, trying to find who said these remarks, who threw the alcohol.”

Richardson said about a dozen Temple students have since reached out to her saying they have had similar experiences.

“These are areas where it’s zero-tolerance, there’s no latitude here,” said Charlie Leone, executive director of Campus Safety Services. “This shouldn’t happen. There’s no reason for someone to go to a party, enjoy themselves and have to deal with this.”

Julie Christie can be reached at julie.christie@temple.edu or on Twitter @ChristieJules.

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