Lifeguard arrested, accused of rape on USF campus

Posted at 7:17 PM, Jul 11, 2016

USF police arrested a man they say raped a 17-year-old student on campus over the weekend. Sean McDonald, the 18-year-old suspect, is also a lifeguard for Pinellas County at Fort De Soto Park.

According to police, the victim and McDonald knew each other, but not well. He was visiting a friend on campus and went to a party with the 17-year-old student. Police say the student was asleep in a dorm on campus and woke up to McDonald having sex with her. Police say he admitted to the assault.

"In this case, there was some alcohol involved," said Renna Redick, USF PD spokesperson. "It's not necessarily stranger danger in every situation... Sometimes the person that harms you is someone you know."

In fact, according to government statistics, around 80 percent of all sexual assaults are committed by someone the victim knows.

While sexual assaults are a problem on every campus, Redick says this is the first reported at USF this year. Last year, there were none. Since 2013, only 8 police reports involving a rape have been filed at the campus.

But, there are other statistics showing a far greater number. Those numbers include reported assaults to any campus official and police, but charges weren't filed in every case for several different reasons. Many times, the victim doesn't wish to get the police involved. When you look at those numbers, they show 42 total sexual assaults between 2012 and 2014.

USF offers several programs for young women, including a R.A.D (rape aggression defense) course. It teaches women awareness, prevention and self defense. Courses are available to women associated with the school for $25. For people outside of USF, the 12-hour class costs $50.

We reached out to Pinellas County to see what is being done with McDonald's employment as a life guard at Fort De Soto. A county spokesperson tells ABC Action News that they're reviewing the case to determine an appropriate course of action.