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Wednesday, February 21, 2024
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‘Severe’ assault on student in downtown Madison prompts police investigation

The Madison Police Department is investigating an assault which occurred late Sunday night near the intersection of W. Wilson Street and Bedford Street.

Content warning: This story contains information about sexual assault.

The Madison Police Department (MPD) is investigating a physical and sexual assault early Sunday morning where a woman was found “with severe signs of physical trauma,” according to Madison Police Chief Shon Barnes.

The student, described Tuesday as being in her 20s, is expected to survive despite sustaining critical injuries, according to a Tuesday afternoon press release. MPD Spokesperson Stephanie Fryer said MPD is making “significant progress on this case.” Detectives and investigators are still looking for any surveillance video from the area, particularly from those who were gone during the holiday.

The attack occurred around 3:18 a.m., with the woman found along the 500 block of W. Wilson Street. No arrests have been made at this time, and the victim is currently receiving treatment at an area hospital.

Barnes identified the victim as a University of Wisconsin-Madison student at a Sunday press conference but did not enumerate the extent or cause of the injuries, saying only that they are severe. Barnes said more information will be communicated once the victim receives treatment.

Barnes did not say whether the victim is conscious but said police investigators have not spoken to her at this time.

"I have authorized a full complement of police resources to bring this person or persons to justice, including our partners at UW,” Barnes said. 

Police presence will be increased in the area around the attack “for the time being,” and residents are encouraged to not walk alone, according to the press release. 

Suzanne Brandt, emergency management services director for the University of Wisconsin Police Department, told The Daily Cardinal campus area patrols will also be increased but that UWPD cannot disclose specific information related to its assistive role in the investigation.

“We’re very worried,” Brandt said. “It’s a very alarming incident.”

Investigators are currently searching for additional witnesses and surveillance video recorded from 2 a.m. to 4 a.m. by people who live near the attack site.

Paige Valenta, assistant chief of police for MPD, assured the victim, the family and the Madison community that the police departments will “leave no stone unturned” to hold the perpetrator or perpetrators accountable. 

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Police are in the process of interviewing, swabbing for biological evidence, taking photos and documenting the scene, according to Valenta.

Those with information or videos related to the assault can contact MPD at their non-emergency line (608) 255-2345, Madison Area Crime Stoppers at (608) 266-6014 or anonymously online at

Student support and community resources are available via University Health Services’ crisis line at (608) 265-5600, option 9.

Editor’s note: This is a developing story. This article was last updated on Tuesday, Sep. 5 at 2:18 p.m. 

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Jasper Bernstein

Jasper Bernstein is the Associate News Editor for The Daily Cardinal. Follow him on Twitter at @jasperberns.

Liam Beran

Liam Beran is the Campus News Editor for The Daily Cardinal and a third-year English major. Throughout his time at the Cardinal, he's written articles for campus, state and in-depth news. Follow him on Twitter at @liampberan.


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