A University of Massachusetts student was assaulted Tuesday as she walked toward the Sydney Street entrance of the JFK/UMass MBTA station in Dorchester, an area that neighbors have long said needs more surveillance.
The woman, whose identity was not released, told MBTA and UMass police that she was assaulted at about 12:30 p.m. while she walked through the parking area near the entrance to the Red Line station.
A law enforcement official with knowledge of the case said the woman was grabbed from behind by a white male, who pushed her up against a chain-link fence, then grabbed her chest and crotch.
The attacker was described as a man in his mid-20s, about 5-foot-10, with a heavy build and a scruffy brown beard. At the time, he was wearing a blue hooded sweatshirt, light-colored jeans, and sneakers, Transit Police said.
MBTA spokesman Joseph Pesaturo called the assault an “isolated event.”
“There is nothing to suggest that an imminent threat exists in that area,” he said. “There have been no other reports of indecent assaults at JFK/UMass Station this year.”
The woman went to the campus counseling center to report the attack. Counselors then called UMass police, who along with MBTA police, interviewed the young woman, said DeWayne Lehman, a university spokesman.
The campus decided to alert students, faculty, and employees through an e-mail, he said. “Given the volume of students and faculty and staff that use that station we felt we should put out a timely warning.”
State Representative Martin J. Walsh of Dorchester said residents have long complained that the area around the entrance, which is under the Interstate 93 overpass, needs better security. “It’s a dark, dingy, unattractive place for the public,” Walsh said.
Walsh said he has repeatedly asked the MBTA to install cameras around the entrance, but has been told that budget constraints stand in the way.
He said he is scheduled to meet with new MBTA general manager next Monday.
Pesaturo said the MBTA has received a federal Department of Homeland Security grant to cover the estimated $3.2 million cost of installing hundreds of cameras at six Red Line stations, including JFK/UMass.
“The MBTA will be soliciting bids soon,” he said. “Transit Police are working in partnership with Boston Police to address the neighborhood’s concerns. Also, the area is better illuminated at night after the MBTA made lighting improvements over the past couple of years.”
Transit Police urged anyone with information on the assault to call 617-222-1050 or by texting the tip to 873873.