Hocking College

A sign for Hocking College outside of Light Hall, which serves as home to both administrative offices and a student commons. 

The Athens County Prosecutor's Office is investigating a possible sexual assault last week at a Hocking College dormitory with multiple suspected perpetrators and one victim, at least some of them students at the Nelsonville college.

County Prosecutor Keller Blackburn confirmed Friday afternoon that the Hocking College Police Department asked his office to lead an investigation at the college.

Blackburn would not confirm that the investigation involved a sexual assault, but a source close to the investigation did say that the incident was reported as a sexual assault with multiple suspected male perpetrators and one female victim.

On Friday afternoon, Hocking issued a press release also confirming that a sexual assault had been reported.

In response to a public records request from The Athens NEWS, Hocking issued the release stating that, "Hocking College received a report of an alleged sexual assault on its campus following a party in Athens.

"The College immediately contacted Prosecutor Keller Blackburn's office to conduct the investigation. No charges have been filed in the incident."

Hocking also released the police report, which listed the incident as a rape investigation. The report, with names and specific locations redacted, said that on Sept. 1 a Hocking Police Department officer was contacted by dispatch in reference to a female wanting to speak with an officer.

The female reportedly told the officer that she went to a club event at Ohio University and saw someone she went to high school with, and then attended a party with that person where she reported drinking "a lot."

The female stated that "somehow she ended up back at Hocking College," and lost her keys. At that point, she approached a group of individuals asking them to let her back into her room.

The report says the female did not remember anything else until she woke up the next morning in a dorm room with five males who did not have any clothes on. She also reported being naked.

After the incident, the female said she eventually contacted the campus counseling center, which referred her to the advocacy center, which referred her to the college police department.

The officer reported advising Hocking College Police Chief Al Matthews of the incident, who then reportedly contacted Blackburn's office, which took over the investigation.

"My office was requested by Hocking College PD to assist in an investigation, and actually lead the investigation due to a conflict with the police chief," Blackburn said Friday. "(Detective) Jay Barrett, from my office, led an investigation on Tuesday night at Hocking College, and the investigation is continuing."

The Ohio Attorney General's Office confirmed Friday that its crime scene investigation unit had been called in by the Athens County Prosecutor's Office to assist in the investigation.

"I will not go into any details about (the incident)," Blackburn said. "There is an ongoing investigation that my office was given because of a conflict of the police chief and his dual capacity."

Hocking College Police Chief Matthews also serves as assistant athletics director for Hocking's new intercollegiate athletics program as well as head football coach.

No charges have been filed in the case.

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