UW students talk about fears after alleged daylight sexual assault

Published: Jun. 17, 2020 at 12:27 AM CDT
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A suspect is in custody after a stranger sexually assaulted a UW-Madison student in broad daylight Sunday morning.

Police tracked down a 23-year-old man shortly after the assault happened on University Avenue.

"Speaking as a female who walks this street many times a day, I think it's terrifying and very sad and disappointing," Clarissa Keller, UW-Madison Graduate said.

It's one of the busiest streets in downtown Madison. Now it’s the scene of a sexual assault in broad daylight.

"We always assume if we're walking in a busy area in broad daylight in public, we're going to be fine, but I guess you can never be safe enough and that's really scary,” Keller said.

A UW-Madison student told police it happened while she walked to work Sunday morning near the Fluno Center.

"It was a brutal, savage attack on a young woman," Joel Despain, Madison Police Spokesperson said.

Police said the assault went on for several minutes until a bystander called police.

"What we can see from surveillance video is she was being stalked the entire time that she's walking along the street. A complete stranger pulls her and pushed her into a grassy area right outside the Fluno Center right on University Avenue in the daylight and began sexually assaulting her,” Despain said. "When we got there the suspect took off running."

Police said the suspect fled the scene at the Fluno Center and made his way to Dayton Street. A K-9 unit led police to a nearby apartment where they found the suspect.

"Very unusual. We give people lots of ideas about precautions they can take: staying in well-lit areas and not walking alone, but it’s a well-lit area and it's daylight,” Despain said.

Investigators turned to city surveillance video to help track down a suspect. Officers arrested 23-year-old Alex Wade. The suspect was booked on counts of second-degree sexual assault with use of force and resisting and obstructing. He has not yet been charged.

"It doesn't surprise me there's assault going on in Madison because we walk around all the time and get honked at and cat-called," Lauren Mudlaff, UW-Madison Student said.

Some students say the current climate always requires them to remain vigilant.

"It's not that surprising. It's something that we hear about and it's sad how normal it has become," Remy Ziolkowski, UW-Madison Student said.

"Our hopes and prayers go with this victim that somehow she can manage to push through as a college student with a bright future who now has to deal with a lot," Despain said.