From the Worldwide Faith News archives www.wfn.org
Rape Suspect Arrested, Security Measures Are Still in Place
PCUSA NEWS <firstname.lastname@example.org>
12 Jun 1998 20:15:39
Reply-To: wfn-news list <email@example.com>
Rape Suspect Arrested, But Added Security Measures
Are Still in Place at Presbyterian Center
by Alexa Smith
LOUISVILLE, Ky.--The April rape of a woman leaving the Presbyterian Center
after work and the attempted assault of a female staffer in a nearby
parking garage has prompted officials here to tighten security on the
building's perimeter and to study other ways to control access to the
Louisville police have charged Damon Lewis Hall, 21, a convicted
burglar, with the April 3 rape and robbery in a parking lot near the
Presbyterian Center and consider him a suspect in at least two other
downtown rapes. One woman was assaulted in an elevator of an office
building and raped on a vacant floor in May. Another rape occurred in a
parking garage just over a year ago.
All of the assaults occurred in broad daylight.
Hall is currently being held in the Jefferson County Jail for an
alleged probation violation. The Louisville "Courier-Journal" reported
that Hall was identified by his probation officer after police released a
sketch of a young black man as the suspect in the April 3 rape.
Aaron Graham, information officer for the Louisville Police
Department, said Hall is not thought to be a suspect in the attempted
assault, though he was not in custody at the time.
"We're trying to provide as much safety as possible to employees
without jeopardizing the friendliness of the reception of visitors to the
building," said the Rev. Frank Diaz, interim executive director of the
General Assembly Council (GAC), who has found himself in the middle of
theological and security debate about the delicacy of controlling access to
a church that is also a corporate building.
"There is a conflict between being a [downtown] business and a church,"
he said. "We have to find a happy medium between the two. We have a
responsibility to employee safety and we must exhibit Christian character
[in the] environment."
Since the April 3 rape of a woman who worked at the Presbyterian Center
but who was not a member of the denominational staff, Building Manager Sara
Sievert said a visible guard has been added to the Witherspoon Garage
(which is directly across the street from the Presbyterian Center) during
peak hours. The denomination has also contracted with a walking patrol to
increase security around the Center. Building security guards are also
escorting women to their cars on request.
The Staff Leadership Team (SLT) is currently obtaining cost estimates
on card access systems for doorways into primary work areas on each floor
of the Presbyterian Center and, according to Diaz, is considering once
again requiring employees to wear identification badges.
Having volunteer greeters to meet guests in the Center's Atrium are
also under consideration, he said.
A badge system was briefly used in the Presbyterian Center - under
much protest - shortly after the national staff was downsized in 1993. It
was soon discarded.
"I suspect we're not going to enjoy the luxury of free access," said
Tina Moulton, who has been monitoring suggested security measures as
president of the National Staff Association. "We've had a relaxed
approach, mostly for theological reasons. We are a church, after all. But
once personal safety has been violated, not once but multiple times, you
begin to see the reality that ... we can't maintain that freedom."
Moulton said that Hall's arrest prompted an almost "audible sigh of
relief" among staff members, but the association is pressing staff to
remain vigilant. Personal safety was emphasized in safety training
workshops conducted in the building in late April and early May. The
attempted assault on a female employee in another riverfront parking garage
was stymied when she sprayed her assailant with chemical spray that,
Moulton pointed out, had been purchased at one of the Center trainings.
"Three weeks ago," the woman who fended off the attacker told the
Presbyterian News Service, "I never would have had that [spray] in my
Self-defense classes were also offered and grief counseling was made
available in the weeks after the April rape.
Graham said police are cautioning employees of downtown businesses to
remain wary. "Just because we have a suspect in custody shouldn't give
anyone the thought that they can relax, especially women," he told the
Presbyterian News Service, adding that police are encouraging people to
walk in groups on the street and to parked cars.
This note sent by PCUSA NEWS
to the wfn-news list <firstname.lastname@example.org>.
Send unsubscribe requests to email@example.com
Browse month . . .
Browse month (sort by Source) . . .
Advanced Search & Browse . . .