Students speak on sexual assault suspect arrest


Brynn Lundy/The Lion's Roar

Police in Hammond recently arrested a suspect for a sexual assault against a Southeastern student.

On Tuesday, Aug. 10, Hammond police arrested 23-year-old Laqonte Turner Jr. as a suspect in the second-degree rape of a Southeastern student back in October 2020, according to WDSU News. 

Turner already possessed warrants for two counts of being an accessory to second-degree murder and two counts of obstruction of justice. The arrest has prompted Southeastern students to consider the importance of safety and awareness on and off campus.

Marley Bohning, a junior psychology major, shared her thoughts on when she first read about this news. 

“As a Southeastern student and a person who has lived near Hammond my entire life, I felt disturbed to say the least when I learned about the incident. Although I know these types of situations happen every day to hundreds of men and women, it was eye opening to hear that this happened so close to my home,” Bohning said

While the university and Hammond area maintains a reputation for having low crime rates, instances of sexual assault still cause worry among students. 

Bohning added that because Hammond’s rates of sexual assault are comparably low to larger cities in Louisiana, a lot of residents who live here do not understand its severity to the community. 

Carsyn Avegno, a junior communication major, said hearing this type of news is often nerve-wracking for students like herself.

“It’s scary knowing that this type of thing happens all the time both on and off campus. It’s really hard to feel safe by yourself when you constantly hear reports of sexual assault around the place you live,” Avegno said. 

Another student, sophomore psychology major Reece Pelloat, shared his relief on hearing the news that the suspect had been arrested. 

Pelloat said, “It definitely shows that justice, no matter how long it takes, will be served. Once again it is a very scary thing to hear, but we as the student body have to keep our heads held high and keep an eye out for one another. Whether that be walking a friend back to their dorm or just regularly checking up on your friends and peers.” 

Pelloat mentioned how he and his friends keep up with each other’s location using apps on their phones to make sure his friends stay safe when traveling on and off campus. 

Bohning also said that using social media to spread awareness about the threats of sexual assault in the area will allow people to speak to victims, teach the importance of prevention and be proactive young adults. 

One step Southeastern has taken to help the campus community is the “Protect the Pride: Red Zone Training” event that occurred on Aug. 16 and 17. This event, hosted by the Division for  Affairs, was held to help educate students on how to defend themselves against sexual assault. 

The University Police Department is always available to report sexual misconduct at the number 985-549-2222, and the University Counseling Center has services available for victims of sexual assault. 

For more information on Southeastern’s steps, advice and outlets to make their campus safe from sexual assault, students can visit this link