The victim and suspect in a California State University San Marcos (CSUSM) sex assault that occured in broad daylight last month communicated through the popular instant messaging app Kik, police say.
The sex assault happened on Tuesday, Jan. 31 at approximately 11 a.m. in Lot B on campus, according to an advisory sent to students.
The pair met and communicated on Kik for an unknown period of time before meeting on campus, where the suspect drove the victim to Lot B and raped her, according to CSUSM Police Department Sgt. Ray Derouin.
The suspect then drove the victim back to Craven Circle, where he let her go. The victim notified University police shortly after.
Derouin said the department had to subpoena Kik, a Canadian company instant messaging company, to get access to some of the communications between the suspect and victim, since the application is anonymous.
In a statement to NBC 7, Kik said the company takes online safety very seriously and is constantly working to imrpvoe safety measures:
"There are two ways we do this. One is through technology and constant improvements to the product itself. We recently launched a proprietary SafePhoto technology as an enhancement to Microsoft’s PhotoDNA that detects, reports, and deletes known child exploitation images sent on our platform. We also upgraded our users’ ability to filter unknown senders and report content or contact that violates our terms of service. We believe it is possible to both protect user privacy and get rid of bad actors on our platform, using a combination of technology and human effort to remove users who violate our terms of service or harass other users."
"The other is through education and partnerships with organizations that help adults and teens understand the challenges of today’s online landscape and how to avoid bad situations. For years, we’ve had teams dedicated to this, and we will continue to invest in those types of tools, provide resources to parents, and strengthen relationships with law enforcement and safety-focused organizations."
"This is a priority for us. We want all users to be safe on Kik and will continue to make Kik a safe, positive and productive place for our users to interact."
Derouin said students using apps like Kik should be cautious when communicating with people.
"The use of the automatic, anonymous deleting application makes it hard for us to track and use as evidence if in fact something illegal occurs," he said.
Police also had a phone call between the suspect and her attacker, which they traced back to the suspect, Derouin said.
The suspect is a 28-year-old man not affiliated with the university, and police have not released his name yet, though he was interviewed by police and gave a statement, according to CSUSM officials.
The man is not a San Diego County resident and was in the process of moving home at the time of the incident.
Authorities say there is still pending forensic evidence in the case. Derouin said police do not believe there are further victims.
The case has been sent to the San Diego County District Attorney's office to determine whether they will proceed with an arrest.
University police are asking anyone with information to call them at (760) 750-4567, or use the University’s SAFE hotline at (760) 750-SAFE. If you wish to remain anonymous, call Crime Stoppers at (888) 580-8477.