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Jaclyn Kelley / Eyewitness News
Email: jkelley@wwltv.com | Twitter: @jkelleyWWL

NEW ORLEANS - Police are investigating a rape that happened near a popular university hangout.

Police say it happened near Broadway and Zimpel Streets around 2 a.m. Thursday morning.

'It's pretty terrible, but it is definitely avoidable,' says Tulane University senior Natalia Vergara.

Students living along Broadway Street were surprised to learn a 19-year-old woman was allegedly raped by someone she had met near a popular university bar.

'You never know what people are capable of. Even if it's someone who looks totally decent, you don't know who they are,' says Vergara. 'It's really alarming, but that is why you always have to have your guard up.'

The teen told police she came to the bar, but it had already closed for the night. It is there that she struck up a conversation with a group girls and guys outside the bar.

According to police, the group invited her back to a nearby house to hang out. After a period of time, people started going to bed and that is when the woman found herself alone with a man, police say, forcibly raped her before running off.

Leah Foster, the Director of trauma Recovery Services at the Family Justice Center, says when preventing rapes like this one they do not focus on what the victim should or should not have done.

'So rather than saying to girls starting college, don't go out alone, don't go out drinking, don't wear a short skirt or whatever other ancient things people use to say, we are really focused on how we can educate young people to respect women,' says Foster. 'How we can educate them about what consent actually is and what it looks like.'

While we do not know if the victim, or anyone else, was drinking that night, Foster says it is important to know that, under the law, someone cannot give consent if they are intoxicated.

'My advice to anybody is if you are at all unsure get a clear 'yes' from your partner,' says Foster. 'If you know that they are intoxicated, walk away, wait until another time. If it's meant to be, it will work out.'

Police would not say whether the victim was a college student and Tulane University did not send out an alert.

However, school officials said Friday, they do not know at this time if the woman was a student at the university.

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