VCU students drugged, sexually assaulted off campus

RICHMOND, Va. — VCU student Shannon McGowan gets a number of VCU emails in her inbox nearly every day, but one she received Tuesday gave her pause.

“It’s so nice that we do get these texts because it’s nice to know what’s going on,” McGowan said.

Finding out that two VCU students were sexually assaulted over the weekend in the 1200 block of West Marshall Street.

“You don’t know really how to react to it because you have to go outside. I live on the street that it happened and it’s just freaky,” McGowan said.

VCU police said the incident happened late Saturday night into the early hours of Sunday morning.

The victims, who reported having extreme memory loss after attending several events and parties during VCU’s homecoming weekend, told police the perpetrator may have used alcohol and or drugs before the assault.

“I know I should never like take a drink and then put it down somewhere and walk away from it — and come and pick it back up,” said VCU student Claire Miclat.

Dr. Peter Coleman, who specializes in drug addiction, said the date rape drug can mimic the effects of alcohol and last up to 12 hours in the body.

“There could be some stumbling and some incoordination and things like that, but there’s often this pretty intense memory loss that can go on for hours and hours,” Coleman said.

Coleman said the effects of drug on the body can be toxic, if not treated.

“They should immediately get help, by going to the ER,” said Coleman.

Coleman said in some cases, it could require stomach pumping.

Richmond police confirmed they are investigating this case since the crimes happened off campus in their jurisdiction.

Still, VCU students we spoke with don’t plan to let their guard down.

“It’s really scary to me and I hope that everybody at VCU stays safe,” said Miclat.

VCU’s Police Chief Dr. Jon Venuti stresses the importance of students coming forward if they’re a victim of a sexual assault.

He said counseling and medical services are available on and off campus to help victims cope with the painful experience.