University of South Alabama Police have arrested the person they believe is responsible for Wednesday’s abduction and sexual assault of a female student on campus.
JaWuan Maurice Dawson has been taken into custody and charged with sodomy in the first degree, fraudulent use of a credit card, sexual abuse in the first degree, robbery in the first degree and kidnapping in the first degree.
Campus police were able to make the arrest after they recognized Dawson, a former USA student, while reviewing security footage from a convenience store where he used the victim’s credit card, said Chief Zeke Aull.
“Technology has been huge in helping us,” Aull said.
Aull said Dawson last attended the school in 2011 and had been arrested by campus police previously. Authorities went to his last known address, but he wasn’t there. Police received information there that he’d be on the 3600 block of Michael Boulevard at Family Place Apartments, Aull said.
“We caught him outside near his vehicle,” Aull said. “I think he was surprised.”
The student reported to police that the assault happened Wednesday around 9 a.m. She told police she was abducted at gunpoint in the north chemistry parking lot on campus. She told police she was forced into her own car and sexually assaulted in the student health parking lot and Municipal Park, where the suspect took her cell phone and cash, according to a USA statement.
The suspect then drove the student back to the student health parking lot then left in her car. The car was found back in the north chemistry lot, according to the statement.
Aull said committing a crime of this magnitude at that time of day was “brazen.” He said he can’t think of similar situation he’s seen in his time in law enforcement.
“It’s scary to me,” Aull said. “It’s very gutsy to see someone pull something like this. It took a lot of guts on his part.”
Aull commended the victim for coming forward and helping the department in the investigation.
“She has been huge for us,” he said.
Aull said despite this most recent incident that students should feel safe on campus and crimes of this magnitude are rare, not only on USA’s campus, but on campuses across the country.
“Students should absolutely feel safe on our campus and a majority of students do feel safe on our campus,” he said.
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