Courts & Crime

Victims draw attention to serial rapist at Kansas universities

She is one of 13 young women living off-campus in Manhattan or Lawrence who have been attacked by the same home intruder — the same serial rapist — since 2000.

When the young woman from the Wichita area was raped, she was living alone in an upstairs unit of an upscale apartment complex in Manhattan. Her roommate was away for the summer.

The woman thought she was safe.

The man who attacked her apparently targets women living alone. He spies on them before each attack, said Kansas Attorney General Steve Six, who along with others has been trying to spread awareness of the crimes.

The rapes have occurred during college breaks.

Mary Todd, director of the Kansas State University Women's Center, recently wrote in her blog about the woman and e-mailed the woman's quotes to The Eagle.

"No one has been talking about this serial rapist. I want to warn other women, especially since there seems to be a lot of silence about the crimes," the blog quotes "Jess," the Wichita-area woman. Her real name is not being used to protect her identity.

She says in the e-mail that she had not known about the serial rapist before her attack.

"If I would've known about him, I would've definitely NEVER stayed at my apartment alone," she said.

To draw attention to the crimes, Six recently spoke at personal-safety forums at K-State and the University of Kansas.

Despite awareness efforts by Six, police and the universities, some Wichita-area parents whose daughters attend the schools say neither they nor their children knew about the serial rapist until a reporter called them.

Other young women are aware of the crimes, and the attacks have affected their lives.

"I also hear from women that they are sad that they no longer feel completely peaceful when they get in bed at night," Todd said.

"Many women have told me they actually check under the bed or in the closet, something they never did before."

Students might want to let fresh air into their apartments. Unfortunately, Todd said, they can't afford to leave windows or doors open or unlocked — even on a second floor — day or night.

She also says awareness and concern among students and parents appear to be rising.

"As the years have passed, and we focus on educating freshmen, I get mostly hands-up when I ask, 'Who has heard of the so-called serial rapist?'"