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Published September 03, 2010, 12:00 AM

False report of attempted abduction at Valley City State shows need

Request to ND Legislature would give more resources to campus mental health services
Counseling services are being made available for a Valley City (N.D.) State University freshman who made a false report about an attempted abduction.

By: Amy Dalrymple, Forum News Service, INFORUM

Counseling services are being made available for a Valley City (N.D.) State University freshman who made a false report about an attempted abduction.

The woman reported that she was jogging near the VCSU campus about 9 p.m. Wednesday when three men in a vehicle attempted to abduct her, said Valley City Police Chief Dean Ross.

But when investigators questioned her again on Thursday, “there were just a few clues that didn’t seem right in her statements,” Ross said.

The woman then admitted she made up the story about the abduction attempt, Ross said.

The woman is from Minnesota and started classes last week as a VCSU freshman, Ross said. She was distraught and told officers she was stressed, he said.

“It’s the first week of college, basically,” Ross said.

Glen Schmalz, vice president for student affairs, said counseling and other assistance will be made available to the student.

VCSU has a licensed professional counselor, but the counselor also has teaching duties. The campus also has a university health nurse and a campus advocate who works with domestic violence issues, Schmalz said.

“For a small campus, we’ve got a pretty good array of personal counseling services,” he said.

A request that will go before the North Dakota Legislature when it begins meeting in January would put more resources into mental health counseling on college campuses.

It would provide at least one full-time counselor on every campus, add after-hours mental health services and increase training related to mental health.

VCSU’s counselor has a significant caseload, including more students who are coming to campus who are on medication or are in counseling, Schmalz said.

After Wednesday’s initial report was made, there was alarm and fear on campus, Schmalz said.

Once it was determined to be false, officials still sent a reminder to students with safety tips.

Ross said he often reminds people to be aware of their surroundings when they’re walking alone. He said he references the cases of Mindy Morgenstern, Dru Sjodin and Anita Knutson, three North Dakota college students who were murdered.

When police took the abduction report Wednesday night, they treated it seriously, Ross said.

“Obviously, it does create a lot of anxiety in the community,” Ross said.

A police report will be forwarded to Barnes County prosecutors for consideration of charges for giving false information to law enforcement, Ross said.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Amy Dalrymple at (701) 241-5590