ABC 7 NY has reported that a sexual assault took place near the Columbia University campus located at 533 W. 218th St. New York, NY 10034.
On Saturday, April 23, 2022, Miguel Mella was arrested for attacking two 19-year-old women outside the college dorms. The attack occurred around 3 a.m. on April 21, 2022. Mella is accused of shoving the two teens to the ground, grabbing one of their lower backs and buttocks, and making statements about how "they should kiss." One victim was injured on her knee due to the attack. She was taken to a local hospital for treatment.
Mella fled the scene before law enforcement arrived, but witnesses were able to identify him, leading to his arrest. He is facing charges including four counts of sex abuse and two counts of forcible touching. Police are concerned that there may be additional victims and encourage anyone to come forward that may have been encountered by the perpetrator.
Attorney contributor Laurence Banville represents sex abuse victims and their families in civil lawsuits throughout New York. During a recent discussion, Laurence explained when a college or university may be held liable for sexual assault on a university campus.
"Universities have a legal duty to do everything they can to protect their student body from preventable dangers on the campus and dorm areas. Universities must implement certain security measures to prevent crimes from taking place, including sexual assault. These measures may include surveillance cameras throughout the campus, sufficient lighting, and patrolling security officers. In the event a student is sexually assaulted on campus, a proper investigation must take place. While law enforcement will look to identify the perpetrator, they should also investigate the safety of the campus."
"Too often, campus sex crimes happen as a result of the school or school officials' safety negligence. If the university was aware of an increase in the risk of dangers, they would be responsible for increased security measures on campus and in the housing areas. In instances of safety negligence, victims and their families may have a case for a lawsuit against the university or college. Victims and their families should consult an experienced sexual assault attorney to learn their legal options."