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USF senior accused of raping freshman in her dorm room

TAMPA — A University of South Florida freshman awoke Wednesday as a man raped her in her dorm room.

Her attacker, officials said, was someone she knew well: USF senior Samuel Cesaire, 23, an overnight guest of her roommate's.

The crime shocked other students. It also spurred the university to talk to students in every dorm Thursday about acquaintance rape and date rape.

The university's residence halls are safe, USF spokesman Michael Hoad said.

Students must swipe their identification cards to open the doors, and each student's ID opens only the doors to his or her residence hall. Visitors must be escorted by students who live in a dorm. Guests of the opposite sex are not supposed to stay overnight.

But USF administrators said the incident is a reason to talk about forms of rape more common than rape by a stranger.

"These are the kinds of things that you have to have community conversations about," Hoad said. "The more you have a community conversation where people start to look out for each other, the safer we'll all be."

The attack took place about 7 a.m. Wednesday in the Kosove apartments, an on-campus complex housing about 254 freshmen.

Startled, the victim pushed Cesaire off and he stopped the attack, police said. Later, she told a resident assistant, who called USF police about 12 hours after the attack.

Cesaire of 18134 Bahama Bay Drive in Tampa was being held without bail Thursday night on two counts of sexual battery of a physically helpless person.

Cesaire is a computer engineering major who started at USF in the fall of 2004. According to state records, his only previous arrest was a 2005 charge of forgery, which was dropped.

Because of the sexual battery charges against him, Cesaire has been suspended and banned from campus, Hoad said.

The victim and her roommate are receiving counseling. The victim is from Tampa but lives in Kosove hall. "She has a lot of friends there," Hoad said.

Thursday morning, three freshmen who live at the hall said they hadn't heard of the attack.

"That's scary," said Renita Singh, 18, of Orlando. She said she had felt safe in Kosove "up until just now."

"Now I'll definitely lock my door and make sure my roommate locks our doors," said Singh, who plans to study computer engineering.

University officials said students should be careful who they invite into their rooms. This week's rape, Hoad said, was "a classic situation in which at least the students involved did not believe this would happen."

USF officials also offer a physical education course each semester teaching students how to defend themselves against rape and have launched a program to teach male students about sexual violence, how it happens and what role alcohol plays.

The rape is the second time in three months that police say a female student has awakened to find a male dorm visitor committing a crime in her room.

In mid October, police said a female student in Beta Hall woke up and saw then-18-year-old Daniel Boliek of Coral Springs in his boxer shorts touching her roommate's face. Boliek is not a USF student but was the guest of a male student in the dorm.

Police said he ran into the hallway, took off his underwear, shoved a resident assistant, punched a police officer, was pepper-sprayed, fondled himself and ran outside, where officers tackled him.

Boliek faces a variety of charges. He has pleaded not guilty.

Such incidents highlight the need for students to recognize they are making adult decisions when they have guests.

"We consider the dorms safe," Hoad said. "In this case, they let him in the door, and behind closed doors it's very hard for us to check at that level."

Times researcher John Martin contributed to this report. Richard Danielson can be reached at Danielson@sptimes.com or (813) 226-3403.

USF senior accused of raping freshman in her dorm room 01/14/10 [Last modified: Friday, January 15, 2010 12:08am]
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