Victim critical of MSU's handling of voyeurism incident

October 20, 2012 8:15:41 PM



STARKVILLE -- The alleged victim of a voyeur at last week's Mississippi State football game is critical of how university law enforcement has handled the incident. 


The incident occurred Oct. 13 in one of the women's restrooms at Davis Wade Stadium during Mississippi State's game against the University of Tennessee. 


The MSU Police Department is investigating the incident, but officials with the department say a lack of witnesses and evidence have made the case difficult to solve. 


The victim said after she reported the incident, MSU police did not return to the scene of the crime with her. She said she felt as though the police did not take her claims as a serious matter. 


"I am fine," she said Friday. "I guess I will be more paranoid to go to the bathroom, but I am more just really mad that it happened in the first place." 


The victim, who would not reveal her identity, said she and her friend entered the restroom facilities just before halftime. She said several women were standing against the wall, seemingly waiting for a stall. 


She said she noticed a pair of "manly," black or dark brown, work boots in the stall next to hers as she entered, but was not immediately suspicious. 


After using the restroom, the victim stood up, and as she did, she said she noticed what she described as some sort of camera phone come from under the stall where she saw the boots. 


"I just started screaming, 'Are you kidding me?'" she said. "I swung the door open and my friend was right there and she starts asking the other girls if they saw anything." 


Of the five or six women that were waiting for a stall, the victim said not one said they saw anything. 


"They looked at me like I was crazy," she said. "No one responded, they were just staring at me with bewildered looks on their faces." 


The victim and her friend left the bathroom immediately, and, at the urging of her friend, went to find a police officer. The didn't find an officer until they were outside the stadium. 


"All we could see was younger people with yellow vests," she said. "It didn't look like they could really help." 


While giving her account to one MSU police officer, another approached, and that is when the victim said she felt the incident began to be mishandled. 


The victim said the officer who approached seemed very uninterested and was texting while he was talking to her. 


She said the officer told her they had an incident earlier with a black male who was trying to take pictures of women in low cut shirts and skirts, and they had given him a warning. 


He also told her there are no cameras inside Davis Wade Stadium. 


"He just acted so cocky," she said. "It was almost like, 'We already know this stuff is happening.' "He just didn't seem like he cared much. I felt like no one really cared, honestly." 


Since the incident, the victim's family has been in contact with Dean of Students Thomas Bourgeois' office, but the victim has not personally spoken to any administration officials. 


She said she has, however, received an email providing the number to the counseling center on campus and requesting a formal meeting. 


The victim said she has agreed to the meeting but has yet to schedule one. 


Despite the incident, the victim said she planned to attend yesterday's homecoming game, but only on her mother's wishes. "My mom is pretty much making me go to the game," she admitted. "I honestly don't want to go at all, but we were having a good time until that happened. I don't want that to cripple me for the rest of my life." 


In an interview Friday morning, Sid Salter, director of the office of University Relations, said the MSU police department is still investigating the incident, but because of the lack of information provided by the victim, there could be some difficulties. 


Messages left at the police department were not returned. 


"There is a significant constraint of their ability to solve the case," Salter said. "But we believe they handled the incident in the most appropriate way. 


"If MSU gets lucky and solves this case, then we can learn from this and let the conversation continue on how to improve safety during the game day." 


The university employs more than 200 people at each home game, according to Salter, including sworn officers and contracted security, but the victim said she believes the university needs to look at installing cameras and posting attendants in the bathroom or outside of the bathroom. 


"I just want people to be aware that this happened and that is does happen," she said. "I have heard about this stuff, but I never believed it would happen here."