On Oct. 16, a 24-year old woman was followed into her Maplewood home and sexually assaulted around 11:30 a.m. The man forced his way inside her house and assaulted her according to CBS New York’s website.
Muhammed Sharif, a 40-year-old from Irvington, was arrested and charged with aggravated sexual assault, sexual assault and burglary, according to CBS New York.
The woman was treated and released from an area hospital.
The township of Maplewood borders South Orange. The closeness of this unfortunate incident unnerves Seton Hall students, especially those students who walk home to their off-campus residences.
The South Orange Police Department did not respond to The Setonian’s multiple requests for comment.
Junior biology major, Belle Pastorok lives on Widen Place. She walks to and from campus daily. Pastorok shared in an email that she typically walks to school around 8 a.m. and then returns home around 8 p.m. to midnight. She expressed her distaste and uneasiness toward her daily walks.
“I usually walk home and I absolutely hate it,” Pastorok said. “Sometimes I will wait on campus for my roommates so then I do not have to walk home alone. I am constantly afraid of something happening.”
Pastorok commented on the incident in Maplewood. Since the sexual assault occurred in broad daylight, Pastorok’s feeling of anxiety has escalated.
“I always believed that if it were light out, I was not in any danger, but that’s simply not true which is the scary part,” Pastorok said. “It reminded me that I am not always safe and that I need to be aware. Even though I live one street off campus, I am still scared to walk home every night.”
Natalia Surdyka, a junior English major, also lives off-campus in a nearby residence. She prefers to drive because she remains on campus late and does not enjoy walking alone at night, she said.
“Since hearing about [the sexual assault], I feel that I have been extra tense and nervous about walking alone or even being in my apartment alone,” Surdyka said. “It truly is disheartening, awful, and dreadful hearing about incidents like this one. It is a scary world out there and even though I live by a police station, I still do not feel safe 100 percent of the time because of stories like this one.”
Moreover, Pastorok expressed frustration about the university’s lack of attention to the issue. She mentioned that Seton Hall sent a school-wide email regarding the problematic residence on 366 Wilden Place but did not alert students about the nearby daylight burglary and sexual assault.
The residence is traditionally accepted as the formerly recognized Sigma Pi fraternity house.
“It upsets me that Seton Hall and Public Safety hasn’t addressed this issue in an email,” Pastorok said. “Instead, they sent one out about 366 Wilden, so they’re saying that a frat house is more dangerous than sexual assault.”
Seton Hall University did not receive a request for comment regarding their lack of a school-wide email about the sexual assault in Maplewood.
Thomas Schwartz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.