Ohio State Warns Students About Rapist

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - Ohio State University is stepping up its efforts to warn incoming students about a rapist who has been prowling the campus area during the summer break.

Police are attributing six rapes since May to the same man. Two occurred this past weekend.

With thousands of students returning to campus for the start of classes on Sept. 25, police and Ohio State officials have launched a large-scale effort to warn women.

William Hall, the university's vice president of student affairs, said an alert would be placed on the main page of the school's Web site Tuesday morning and a message will be sent to every student e-mail address on Friday.

University staff members and Columbus police also are attempting to knock on every door in the area where the rapes have been occurring as students return. And fliers are being posted on and around campus.

Police spokeswoman Sherry Mercurio said the fifth rape happened about 8 a.m. Saturday, and the sixth about the same time on Sunday.

In some of the six cases, the man entered through an unlocked door or window. In others, he has knocked on the door and asked for someone, then has pushed into the apartment.

"There are striking similarities between the six of these," Mercurio said. "We know it was the same guy."

The man is also wanted in several break-ins at women's apartments that didn't include a rape.

"This is the most terrifying thing I have ever seen," said Sarah Topy, chief of staff of the Undergraduate Student Government, one of the groups helping with the education effort.

(Copyright 2002 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)