A group of Colorado College senior girls enjoying a night of wine and homemade pizza at an off-campus house over winter break experienced an awful turn of events when they spotted a strange man masturbating in a lit, open alley, watching them through the kitchen window.
The five students were getting ready to welcome over dinner guests on Jan. 9 during a relatively quiet night on the 1100 block of north Weber Street, when one spotted a strange object through the screen.
“One girl saw something in the window and thought it was a champagne bottle, but it was definitely phallic,” said one of the senior girls in the house, who identified herself to a reporter but asked to remain anonymous. “I thought it was a friend waving a dildo, and another friend thought it was someone peeing on the house.”
But in fact, it was no joke at all.
“We put our faces up to the window to see what it was, and it was a man masturbating in the window [where the shade was up], and then he came down to our level when he saw us,” she said.
The girls fled to the safety of a back room in the house, called police, and waited for them to arrive.
At 7:39 p.m. that evening, the Colorado Springs Police Department received an emergency call from the group and dispatched three officers to respond to the “prowler in progress” call, according to police.
“We all were in the kitchen and someone said get your phone and call the cops … but we were still waiting for someone to pop up and [joke about it],” said Amelia Dotzenrod, a senior who was at the house that night. “I was probably on the phone with the dispatcher for ten to fifteen minutes giving her a description of the guy.”
When one of the party-goers tried to peer out to see if the coast was clear, it wasn’t.
“When we came back out [from hiding] he was still there,” Dotzenrod said.
Eventually the man left and officers arrived at the house, searched the area and did not make contact with anyone, according to Barbara Miller, Senior Communications Specialist for the CSPD.
“That’s pretty serious,” Miller said of the man. “…sometimes they are just getting a kick out of it. But sometimes they can escalate and break into the house.”
The Gold Hill patrol division that answered the call is resolutely responding to the aggressive act.
“Certainly we would try to investigate if it was a pattern of regular behavior, and I’ll be honest with you, I haven’t heard any history recently of this kind of activity happening,” said Division Commander Pat Ridgon. “But that doesn’t mean that it hasn’t happened before. A lot of times if a person is doing this activity, what we are always worried about is they are going to get more aggressive and potentially become a sexual assault risk.”
As for the bold nature of the crime, Rigdon said it’s not so unusual.
“It definitely happens every once in a while that somebody gets brave and runs around and starts doing something like this,” he said.
At least some of the group that witnessed the shocking act felt that the police weren’t sympathetic with the situation.
A responding officer laughed when the girls asked if they should stay in groups to be safe, Dotzenrod said.
“I think it was more he just wasn’t taking it seriously enough,” she said. “He wasn’t being condescending, but just unprofessional.”
In the report made that night, there was no mention of officer misconduct.
“It doesn’t look like anything unusual happened because of our response,” Rigdon said. “But in terms of the conduct and the case, it will have to go through Internal Affairs.”
As of printing, the victims had not filed a complaint with either Internal Affair or the Gold Hill division.
Two girls at the dinner party reported that they overhead the call on the radio to one of the responding officers received a call about a man conducting himself in a similar manner down the street. Commander Rigdon couldn’t immediately find a second report, but said that there could have been one made that was not linked to the original call.
Police said the victims described the man that is allegedly behind the lewd conduct as a white male about six feet tall who was wearing dark pants.
“I sleep on the first floor and I didn’t sleep in my room for a week because I was really scared of the peeping Tom,” Dotzenrod said. “I think now it’s sort of just become funny, but I was just really scared at the time. We didn’t know if he was going to come in or just watch.”
But others at the house that night are taking a more thorough approach to protect themselves.
“I walk around with mace,” said the anonymous girl referenced earlier. “…I don’t walk around by myself when I am drunk, ever. It was just a disconcerting situation.”