By CARL SMITH
School officials confirm Mississippi State University Police Department is investigating a voyeurism incident which allegedly occurred in the girls’ restroom at Davis Wade Stadium Saturday.
Sid Salter, director of MSU’s university relations, said top school administrators are aware of the incident and are reviewing policies to ensure the safest game day atmosphere is provided to students and visitors.
“The game day experience is of the utmost importance to everybody involved,” he said. “The conversation will continue about ways to improve security at all MSU events. We’re trying to concentrate on meeting this student’s and her family’s concerns and do everything possible to make sure incidents like this never happen again.”
A sophomore MSU student reported an unidentified person attempted to photograph her in a girl’s restroom stall during MSU’s SEC football game against the University of Tennessee. Starkville Daily News does not identify victims of sexual crimes.
Before the start of the third quarter, the victim said she and a friend walked from the student section to the lower concourse restroom near the end zone seating. She said the facility was filled with other females, but some stalls appeared to be unoccupied although the doors were closed.
“When I shut the stall door, I noticed a person with boots (occupying the stall immediately to the right) … and thought they were very manly boots. I don’t know why that didn’t click in my head,” the victim said. “I stood up — I wasn’t in a rush — looked down and noticed a camera phone was barely visible under the (stall wall). I screamed, ‘Are you kidding me?’”
The victim said the suspect immediately ran from the stall and exited the restroom.
“(Other females in the restroom) didn’t really say anything. It was like they had no response at all,” the victim said. “They just stared — nobody knew how to react. I just want people to be aware of the incident. I know this type of thing happens, but it didn’t click in my head (at the time of the incident).”
After the incident, the victim and her friend found a police officer and filed a report. Because the incident occurred so quickly, she said she was unable to precisely identify the suspect’s sex or race.
MSUPD Detective Brad Massey confirmed officials are looking into the incident but could not comment further due to the nature of the ongoing investigation. He did say, however, this was the first time this type of incident has ever been reported at MSU.
“(MSUPD) handled processing and is handling the investigation in what we believe is an appropriate way,” Salter said. “The information provided gives the university police department very few details that would enable them to solve the case at this point.
“More than 200 people are involved in game day security in the stadium, including 90 sworn officers. With 200 people dedicated to provide security, we feel like security at MSU football games is comparable to peer institutions within the state,” he added. “Unfortunately, when you bring 57,000 people (to a sporting event), you get bad apples.”
Restrooms are kept locked prior to football games, Salter said, to prevent people from hiding or lurking. Additionally, custodial agents and floating security officers are frequently in and out of the restrooms on a regular basis.
In comparison, Ole Miss Assistant Director for Game Day Operations Brian Russell said custodial attendants are placed outside restrooms at all times during football games. Those custodial agents primarily attend any supply needs, but he said they are able to reach out to nearby security agents as needed.
A call to game day managers at the University of Southern Mississippi went unreturned as of press time.
“If (MSUPD) gets a break, we can learn more about this situation and more about what we need to do in the future,” Salter said.
MSUPD Chief Georgia Lindley said students and visitors should always report any unusual activity they observe. If anyone has information about the incident, Lindley encourages them to call MSUPD at 662-325-2121.