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UPD arrests student for masturbating in main library

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The University Police Department has made an arrest after asking students, faculty and staff Thursday for help identifying a student reported for masturbating in the main library on Tuesday, April 10.

Police Chief Wiley said in a statement sent Saturday to the University at Albany community that they spoke with the 23-year-old male on Friday and charged him with public lewdness, a class B misdemeanor.

Assistant Chief Aran Mull said that the student withdrew from the University some time between the incident and when he spoke with UPD.

A blast email Thursday asked students to call UPD if they knew anything about the identity of the male individual, attaching a photo of him and assuring students that no one was physically harmed in the incident.

Mull said Saturday that UPD began receiving information about the suspect within ten minutes of sending out the email.

Dean of Libraries Rebecca Mugridge said Thursday that staff learned from UPD that someone was masturbating in the library after a student recorded and reported it to police.

The daily crime log shows that an incident of public lewdness — exposing one’s private parts in public — was reported on Tuesday, April 10 at 5:22 PM. UPD listed the location as “other.”

Mull said the reason they reached out to the community for help was the failure of the usual identification databases to identify the person.

“This was one of those instances where we’ve checked with the resources here on campus,” said Mull. “We’ve checked with the law enforcement resources that we typically use to identify people, and ultimately those weren’t able to get identification.”

Many students learned of the library incident from a Snapchat video of a student confronting the person sitting at a desk in the library.

Gabriel Torres-Trinidad, a freshman studying business, saw it the day of the incident when a friend sent it to him on Snapchat. Soon, he saw memes and parodies that began circulating on social media.

When he received an email from UPD on Thursday asking for help identifying the person, he was surprised.

“I was like ‘oh wow,’ I knew it was gonna be a big thing on social media, but I didn’t think UPD was gonna get involved,” said Torres-Trinidad.

A paper with the photo UPD circulated and the words “’JACK THE JERKER,’ $5,000,000 REWARD,” was posted on a column outside the university library Thursday. It was taken down later that day.

Joe Hoffman / ASP

Library staff said last week that they were taken aback by the news that a student had been masturbating in their library.

“We’ve never had that public of a display, but we have had some people who have been inappropriate,” said Deborah Bernnard, director of public services for the library. “If it had been reported to us, we would have called UPD right away.”

In the statement announcing the former student’s arrest on Saturday, Police Chief Wiley thanked the community for its help.

“You helped make our campus safer and are proof that an engaged community makes community policing successful,” said Wiley.

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Joe Hoffman is the managing editor for the Albany Student Press.

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