ORIGINAL REPORT, 2:23 PM: A rape has been reported at Roxhill Park – already under scrutiny for crimes and overall safety concerns. First word is in this letter that Denny International Middle School principal Jeff Clark says is going to families of students at Denny and adjacent Chief Sealth International High School:
This morning, a Denny International Middle School student reported to a Denny staff member that she had been attacked on Thursday, Dec. 12, at approximately 3:30 PM at Roxhill Park.
Roxhill Park is located south of Westwood Village, across the street from Target.
She reported that she was raped by a stranger that she believed to be in his mid-twenties. She shared that last Thursday, after school was out, she had gone to Westwood Village with friends. After about an hour, as she was walking home through Roxhill Park, the attack took place. Denny staff immediately contacted her family, the Seattle Police Department, and nearby schools. The Seattle Police Department is actively investigating.
We want to inform all of the students at Denny and Sealth about this and remind you about safety tips for walking to and from school.
Those safety tips are ahead. We are checking, meantime, to see if police have any additional information to share.
The following suggestions are from the Seattle Police Department:
• Pay close attention to your surroundings, avoid “automatic pilot.”
• Walk with a purpose; project an assertive, business-like image.
• Use common sense; plan your route to avoid uninhabited parks, parking lots, garages and alleyways.
• Stick to well-lit areas.
• Develop a plan before you see trouble. Crossing a street or entering a store may get you out of a potentially bad situation.
• If a car follows you or beckons you while you are walking, do not approach it. Instead, turn and quickly walk the opposite direction.
• Consider wearing clothing and shoes that you can move freely and quickly in, especially when walking or waiting for the bus.
• Always plan your route and stay alert to your surroundings. Avoid shortcuts. Walk confidently. Scan your surroundings and make eye contact with people.
• Avoid walking alone. Walk or travel with a friend, even during the daytime.
• Pay attention to the uncomfortable feelings that often warn us of potential danger.
• Don’t be afraid to cross the street, return to a business, or ask for help based on that “funny feeling.”
• Be aware of your surroundings and know who is nearby.
All of us at Denny and Sealth consider student safety to be our top priority. Students, please report anything that happens to you to any adult at school and at home right away—we are all here to help in any way that is needed. We encourage you to talk with your family and school staff to make sure we have the best plan for you to safely come to and from school. Please communicate with your family ahead of time if your planned after school routine changes for any reason.
5:43 PM UPDATE: After trying for hours to get additional information directly from police, we have finally talked to them at the precinct. The case is being handled by the officer who works with Denny, we’re told, so further details might not be available until tomorrow, but police say the rape happened in the park restroom at around 3:30 pm Thursday. (The school day at Denny ends in the 2 pm hour, before Sealth, where classes end just before 3.)
6:23 PM UPDATE: We also have just spoken with Southwest Precinct commander Capt. Joe Kessler, who says extra patrols have continued at Roxhill Park, “most days” as well as some evenings. (As noted in comments, park safety is a major emphasis for the Westwood-Roxhill-Arbor Heights Community Council.) While there is no indication that this is related to the grabbing incident near West Seattle High School last week, he noted that extra officers were assigned to that area for a few days after that incident, and in this case too, officers will make “extra rounds.”