Education

Post about ‘serial rapist on campus’ causes UK police to issue a safety alert

This sketch is of a man being sought in a recent sexual assault in Lexington near the University of Kentucky.
This sketch is of a man being sought in a recent sexual assault in Lexington near the University of Kentucky. Lexington Police Department

A text message loaded with inaccurate information regarding a sexual assault near the University of Kentucky was the reason for a campus-wide safety message Thursday.

It’s the first time the university has sent out a safety alert to fact-check something posted on social media, said UK police Chief Joe Monroe, who has held the position since 2009.

The photo of the text message went viral on Twitter on Wednesday evening and grabbed the attention of UK’s social media team Thursday morning, Monroe said.

“Things go viral so quickly with social media,” Monroe said. “We wanted to make sure that people knew the text wasn’t accurate.”

The message falsely claimed that “UK has a serial rapist on campus.” UK police said they do not know who sent it.

One assault that prompted the text message happened to a woman near Arlington and Grosvenor avenues in late August. A sketch of the suspect in that case was released by Lexington police Wednesday.

In the past several years, there have been several similar unsolved cases, Lexington police said.

In a statement Thursday, Brenna Angel, a spokeswoman for Lexington Police, said: “We are aware of a text message that was circulated on social media Thursday. It was not sent by Chief Barnard or anyone in his family.”

Angel emphasized that people should use caution when out late at night. “We released a suspect sketch Wednesday from an attempted sexual assault that happened near the University of Kentucky campus, and that case may be connected to other assaults that have happened in Lexington. We are actively investigating this case and continue to ask the public for any information.”

Monroe added that he and his staff at UK will be monitoring social media more closely following the incident.

Fernando Alfonso III: 859-231-1324, @fernalfonso

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