A male suspect entered the dorm rooms of two female students on Pomona College’s North Campus early Saturday morning and exposed his genitals while standing near the sleeping students’ beds.
Campus Safety was called and the Claremont Police Department (CPD) also became involved.
The intruder was described as 5’8” and Caucasian with curly hair and glasses.
On Wednesday, the CPD arrested Pomona College junior Derek Lowenberg in connection with the incident. He is currently under CPD custody for burglary and indecent exposure charges. No information was available regarding whether Lowenburg was intoxicated at the time of the crimes.
According to one of the female victims, a Pomona upperclassman who asked to remain anonymous, she awoke at around 4:45 a.m. Saturday morning and saw a young male who had partially undressed himself standing at the foot of her bed. She said she shouted at the intruder, asking, “Who are you? What are you doing?” The man then struggled to pull his pants up as he ran out of her room. Forty-five minutes later, a similar incident occurred in a nearby dorm room.
After responding to a call from one of the victims, Campus Safety immediately began an investigation. The Pomona uppeclassman was asked to identify a suspect later that day. She said that, at this point, she had tried to put the whole incident out of her mind and found it difficult to relive the event.
“Having to deal with it during the day made the whole thing more real to me,” the student said. “It made me realize that it wasn’t just a dream.”
What made the event particularly frightening for the student was the fact that the assailant removed his pants only once he was in close proximity to the victims.
“You just don’t whip down your pants in front of someone’s bed for fun,” the student said. “It’s not a joke.”
The college will still pursue internal procedures for conduct violations and has put Lowenburg under interim suspension from Pomona until those procedures begin. According to Associate Dean of Students for Student Development and Leadership Daren Mooko, interim suspension is not common at Pomona.
“The school has a strong commitment to fairness,” Mooko said, “but in cases where the safety of the community is in jeopardy [these steps must be taken].”
In both instances, doors were left unlocked during the night, allowing the perpetrator to enter the rooms unhindered. Campus Security Director Shahram Ariane encouraged the campus community to take “reasonable steps to safeguard one’s personal safety, such as locking their dorm room door at night.”
In an e-mail sent to the Pomona College community Wednesday, Pomona Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students Miriam Feldblum told students that further details about the incidents would only be made public as necessary to ensure the safety of students, in order to avoid interfering with the police investigation and to protect the privacy of involved parties.
Deans Feldblum and Mooku also encouraged students to contact them with any additional information.