Campus masturbator targets women throughout West Campus

Brianna Stone

Austin Police Department received a report of a man driving around West Campus and asking for directions while masturbating on July 1.

The incident occurred at 2700 E. 22nd St., was categorized as an indecent exposure offense and is being investigated by APD investigator Erin Truho. It was not an isolated event.

On July 2, after reporting the incident, anthropology senior Olivia Benton posted her experience to a private Facebook group of UT female students, Walk Together UT, to warn other women. The post received a lot of feedback, including a couple of women who said the same thing had also happened to them.

“I was out walking my dog, when a man in a silver sedan pulled over and asked for directions … After about a minute, I realized he was masturbating in the car and had no pants on,” Benton wrote in the Facebook post. “I reported it to APD, but basically be vigilant, and if something similar happens to you, try to get the guy’s license plate, because this was clearly something planned.”

UT alumna Larisa Manescu is one of the women who commented on the Facebook post to say she had a similar experience a few years ago.

“I was waiting with a friend of mine … at the intersection of 25th and Pearl Street, when a man pulled up to ask for directions to a park,” Manescu said. “It was strange because she [my friend] was giving the clearest answer she could give and he still had questions. Then the realization of what he was doing sunk in … the man was stalling time to masturbate.”

Manescu said the man drove away before they were able to get his license plate number, so the incident was not reported to police.

UTPD Officer Samantha Carter said the department has not received any similar reports, but they are always monitoring the APD radio. Carter also explained what to do in this situation and how to prevent being caught off guard.

“If this happens to you, get somewhere where you feel safe, immediately call 911, give a description of what you saw and a location,” Carter said. “Always be aware, stay off of your phone and always walk in pairs, whether it’s daytime or nighttime.”