Five students at William Paterson University in New Jersey have been accused of sexually assaulting a woman last week in a residential hall on campus, the school’s president said Sunday.
University President Kathleen Waldron did not say when the woman reported the attack, but told the Bergen Record that “as soon as the victim reported this incident, she was attended to by university counselors and police officers.”
The five male students, all 18-year-old New Jersey residents, were living on campus.
Students were stunned to learn of the charges against their classmates.
"I've been here for four years and I've never heard of anything like this," said senior Collin Coke.
Sophomore Ashley Green said, "It's sad to think that could even happen, because it makes you walk around and wounder if it could happen to you, or if it will."
But friends of the five men spoke out out in their defense. Sophomore Adama Fofanah said they're "all very, very respectful, very kind, they never made me feel uncomfortable," adding that "they're very nice guys and it's sad that this happened to them, it's really sad."
"There's no way that this is what could have happened," she said. "These boys are not like that at all."
The students were being held at the Passaic County Jail on $200,000 bail each, according to jail records. The school’s president said that all five men have been barred from campus.
In a statement emailed to students Sunday night, Waldron said: "I am angry and dismayed that this crime was committed on our campus and allegedly by students. My deepest concern is for the victim of this criminal act who has courageously stepped forward to take legal action and seek justice."
Earlier this month, five students at Ramapo College were arrested in connection with the sexual assault of a student in a dorm room. School president Peter Mercer said the arrests have "raised fundamental issues of personal responsibility and respect for fellow students."
-- Jen Maxfield contributed to this report.