NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) - Loyola University students expressed relief on Monday (Sept. 23) that an arrest had been made in a sexual battery that allegedly occurred last week at a popular nearby bar. But, many said they were shocked that the suspect is a fellow student.
New Orleans police say Carlos Pena Cifuentes, 21, was arrested Saturday and booked with sexual battery.
A female victim said she was sexually assaulted at The Boot Bar and Grill, in the 1000 block of Broadway Street, near the Tulane and Loyola campuses, early Friday according to police.
Cifuentes’ attorney, Aaron Rives said Cifuentes was freed on a $3,500 bond.
Loyola spokeswoman Patricia Murret commented Cifuentes’ status as a student.
“The student in question, who is a visiting student at Loyola, is not a member of the residential campus community and will not be on Loyola's campus for the foreseeable future,” Murret said.
Some students said they were still coming to terms with news that someone who walked the campus with them has been arrested for the crime.
"I feel better that he's not on campus anymore for sure,” said Hannah Barback.
Riley Vagis, another Loyola student, said the developments are hard to believe.
"These kinds of events happen all the time and it's weird to think that it can happen so close to a community that seems so tight-knit and things such as that, so it's just shocking,” Vagis stated.
Police said they were able to positively identify Cifuentes as the perpetrator.
Alexander Abbyad, who is director of operations at The Boot issued a statement to FOX 8:
“The Boot Bar and Grill has preserved the video for law enforcement, but at this time, we will not release to the media to protect the identity of the victim. We continue to work closely with NOPD, TUPD and Loyola University on the incident. - Boot Management.”
On Saturday, Chief Todd Warren, Director of University Police and Emergency Management at Loyola, sent out the following statement to the campus community:
Dear Loyola Community,
The New Orleans Police Department has made an arrest in conjunction with the most recent incident of off-campus sexual battery that was reported on Friday, September 20. We can confirm that it is a Loyola student who has been arrested in this incident. We will take all measures available to us through our disciplinary process and procedures to ensure the safety of our students, faculty, staff, and campus.
The safety of our students is our top priority. We are grateful for the ongoing efforts of the NOPD. The Loyola and Tulane Police Departments will continue to assist NOPD in the investigation in any way possible.
Chief Todd Warren
Director of University Police and Emergency Management
Student Krista D’Angelo recalled her thoughts when she received the message.
"When the email was first sent out it was shocking, because knowing that it was a Loyola student, you don’t think that, like we’re such a close-knit community and everybody knows each other,” she said.
The school’s police department not only sent out an alert about the sexual battery that occurred during the wee hours of Friday morning at the bar, but also stated that it was later learned that another female at the establishment that same night had become incapacitated after drinking only one drink. This report raised suspicions that she may have been drugged, police said.
Loyola said those events are similar to previous incidents reported to have taken place at The Boot, but at the time of Cifuentes’ arrest, he was not accused in those incidents.
Rich Simmerman, a student at Loyola, said he too was relieved that an arrest had been made.
"I’m really glad that he’s caught, but I am concerned that there might be other people associated with it,” said Simmerman.