Town Square

Post a New Topic

Woman reportedly sexually harassed in park

Original post made on Jul 13, 2014

Police in Palo Alto are investigating an incident in which a woman reported being harassed and groped as she sat in a park in the College
Terrace neighborhood on Friday morning.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Saturday, July 12, 2014, 3:03 PM

Comments (21)

Posted by what is harassment?, a resident of Downtown North
on Jul 13, 2014 at 11:46 am

The article title says sexual harassment, but the police deception sounds like a physical assault, including sticking his arm down her shirt. The title of the police press release is "sexual battery". Why is the newspaper trying to make light of the incident?


Posted by Michele Dauber, a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 13, 2014 at 4:35 pm

I had the exact same reaction to "what is harassment." I thought about posting it but decided against it. This is not what "sexual harassment" means. Public sexual harassment means things like catcalls, wolf-whistles, and requests for sex. This is a sexual assault. I'm sure what happened is that the Weekly didn't want to say "Woman Sexually Assaulted in Park" because that sounds like a rape, and people would then post about how the Weekly is hysterical and posting clickbait stories. But it's important for people to understand that sexual assault and gender motivated violence includes more than just penetrative "rape" and it is not exaggerating to call this a sexual attack. What I would say is "Women flees sexual battery in park" and then change the lede to:

"Police in Palo Alto are investigating an incident in which a woman reported being the victim of sexual battery as she sat in a park in the College Terrace neighborhood on Friday morning."

I know that the Weekly is often criticized no matter what they do, and that they were probably trying not to appear overly dramatic. But in this instance by describing a sexual assault as "harassment' the paper has inadvertently minimized the severity and danger of the harm.

Maybe if people would stop attacking the Weekly and value our local paper for its excellent investigative journalism (if not editorial positions) then it would not make obvious mistakes like this one.


Posted by Rupert of henzau, a resident of Midtown
on Jul 13, 2014 at 4:57 pm

"Maybe if people would stop attacking the Weekly and value our local paper for its excellent investigative journalism (if not editorial positions) then it would not make obvious mistakes like this one."

Really, Michelle? And you are a law professor? We should temper our criticism of the local " newspaper" and then they would not make "mistakes"? Not sure how you correlate criticism with poor journalism. The weekly's " investigative" journalism is selective, as long as it does not question the actions of Cretan people.
Maybe the question to ask would be who would benefit from the weekly calling sexual assault harassment and/or why is the weekly calling it harassment only.. Not sure you should call this a " mistake"


Posted by Bernhardt, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 13, 2014 at 9:48 pm

Rupert: Now you know why Santa Clara is a better law school.


Posted by America is Different, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Jul 13, 2014 at 9:50 pm

[Post removed.]


Posted by neighbor, a resident of Evergreen Park
on Jul 13, 2014 at 10:30 pm

A neighbor told me that she heard that other people were present in the park at the time of the assault. Has this been confirmed?


Posted by resident, a resident of Downtown North
on Jul 13, 2014 at 11:53 pm

neighbor - don't speculate. Give your information to the police ASAP. Let them sort it out.


Posted by CrescentParkAnon., a resident of Crescent Park
on Jul 14, 2014 at 12:30 am

> The article title says sexual harassment, but the police deception sounds like a physical assault,

Yeah ... what's up with that? Harassment is making an off-color joke or a pest of one's self, not physically assaulting someone ... what is the deal with the Palo Alto Online reporting fairly frequently missing the point of things in writing them up?


Posted by CrescentParkAnon., a resident of Crescent Park
on Jul 14, 2014 at 12:34 am

> We should temper our criticism of the local " newspaper" and then they would not make "mistakes"?

An innocent comment if the author has not read a the long history of rather odd headlines the PAO has come up with at times, why jump on her? Where else do people learn reporting though but at a local spot like PAO ... it's just that judging from the national media not many are learning! ;-)


Posted by CrescentParkAnon., a resident of Crescent Park
on Jul 14, 2014 at 12:37 am

> Maybe if people would stop attacking the Weekly and value our local paper for its excellent investigative journalism (if not editorial positions) then it would not make obvious mistakes like this one.

I have not seen anyone attacking our local paper for its excellent investigative journalism ... on the contrary, most Palo Altans would be absolutely thrilled! ;-)


Posted by Ellen, a resident of College Terrace
on Jul 14, 2014 at 10:20 am

I'm so sorry for this woman. I'm sure it was a frightening episode.
[Portion removed.]


Posted by resident, a resident of Downtown North
on Jul 14, 2014 at 11:05 am

Ellen - don't blame the victim. The report is entirely plausible. There are lots of reasons why a victim has difficulty fighting back. Let the police do their job before you attack the credibility of the victim. She was very brave just to come forward and report this to the police.


Posted by DroppedCalls, a resident of College Terrace
on Jul 14, 2014 at 11:23 am

I understand how she didn't get a cell signal. As many College Terrace residents will confirm, the cell coverage here is bad... College Terrace is a dead zone.


Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 14, 2014 at 12:48 pm

I don't want this to sound like I am blaming the victim or not having any sympathy with the victim, but I fear that this may well be a "he said/she said" type of case as how can the victim's story be confirmed since there is no evidence.

Whether this was harassment or battery, without some more evidence I don't see how he can be found guilty in a court of law on evidence like this.


Posted by John Galt, a resident of Fairmeadow
on Jul 14, 2014 at 1:58 pm

No cell phone service, well, well. We certainly must protect ourselves from cell tower induced brain cancer and the horrible racket the make.
Don't the Luddites ever see this as a public safety issue? Southern PA has little or no cell phone coverage also. I guess we can always use snail mail!


Posted by Cur Mudgeon, a resident of Greenmeadow
on Jul 14, 2014 at 4:55 pm

John Galt, we have poor cell coverage here too. I won't name names of providers but the pink company was awful and the red one isn't much better.
Would hate to have to use the cellphone in an emergency.


Posted by Kevin, a resident of Midtown
on Jul 14, 2014 at 5:36 pm

I think the little league park on Middlefield is about to install cell phone towers, despite much opposition. Maybe this will help with coverage in South Palo Alto.

I don't know about College Terrace. Maybe they have plans to install cell phone towers? Otherwise, their cell phones may not be available in a crisis situation, like sexual assault.


Posted by Alice Schaffer Smith, a resident of Green Acres
on Jul 15, 2014 at 9:28 am

Alice Schaffer Smith is a registered user.

How easily it was to slip into criticism of the paper, which alerted us to the sexual battery which took place at Dartmouth Street, to the law professor who clarified the attack in correct legal terms and then on and on.

That a woman was interfered with is news worthy and I am grateful to have a police sketch of the man who attacked the victim.

We need to be alert.

I wonder whether the police would have advised the woman to have gotten up immediately, and run away, yelling and going towards anyone else in the area to alert them to her plight.


Posted by Memories, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 15, 2014 at 1:34 pm

Resident - that is blaming the victim, because you have no evidence for your theory.

Does anyone else remember the creep in downtown Palo Alto in 1999 who was grabbing women and committing sexual battery? This jerk sounds worse than that one.


Posted by So right, a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Jul 15, 2014 at 4:44 pm

Memories is so right, and blaming the victim is so wrong. it means you are closing your eyes, ears, and brains to what she is trying to explain about her awful experience, or that she experienced it at all.

This just discourages such victims from ever coming forward and reporting these sexual assaults/batteries. And that just gives the perpetrators license to commit more of them.


Posted by wow, a resident of College Terrace
on Jul 15, 2014 at 6:55 pm

my sympathies to the woman involved. Scary experience.

Interesting question of "he said/she said" but don't discount existence of forensic evidence or witnesses. If the grabber caused a bruise, you now have physical evidence. Coupled with a line-up identification, you potentially have enough for a trial where a jury can sort out credibility.

btw - why do the earlier posts refer to the police deception" instead of "description?" Is there some conspiracy afoot?


If you were a member and logged in you could track comments from this story.

Post a comment

Posting an item on Town Square is simple and requires no registration. Just complete this form and hit "submit" and your topic will appear online. Please be respectful and truthful in your postings so Town Square will continue to be a thoughtful gathering place for sharing community information and opinion. All postings are subject to our TERMS OF USE, and may be deleted if deemed inappropriate by our staff.

We prefer that you use your real name, but you may use any "member" name you wish.

Name: *

Select your neighborhood or school community: * Not sure?

Comment: *

Verification code: *
Enter the verification code exactly as shown, using capital and lowercase letters, in the multi-colored box.

*Required Fields

How Bad Policy Happens
By Douglas Moran | 21 comments | 1,522 views

The life of Zarf
By Sally Torbey | 10 comments | 1,164 views

Freshman Blues Don't Mean Wrong College
By John Raftrey and Lori McCormick | 2 comments | 1,072 views

Background and Ideas for the Comp Plan
By Steve Levy | 21 comments | 1,006 views

When Grandparents Visit
By Cheryl Bac | 4 comments | 882 views