Some female Ohio State students have recently expressed concerns about a local man who they say is harassing area women. While the man claimed he has been banned from OSU’s campus, Ohio State University Police representatives have simply said they are aware of the situation.
Reports surfaced on social news-sharing site Reddit of a man in the OSU area approaching women in an unwelcome way.
The 22-year-old man goes by the pseudonym “Sean Larson.” He said he uses the pseudonym to protect him from physical harm and stalking.
“Campus is very tribal, so it’s like a tribal psychology place,” Larson said in an interview with The Lantern Oct. 26. “If you get found out for doing that kind of stuff (sleeping with many women), you can get extradited from the whole thing.”
Victoria Mendoza, a fourth-year in women’s studies and sexuality studies, said Larson approached her twice in the William Oxley Thompson Memorial Library.
The first time he came up to her, which was during November 2012, she said he grabbed her hand and told her she had pretty hair. He claimed to need directions to the 18th Avenue Library and would not let go of her hand when she tried to walk away, despite her assertion that she had a boyfriend, she said.
“This was in the big forum area of Thompson where people can obviously see what’s going on, and nobody stepped in,” Mendoza said.
Five or six months later, Mendoza said Larson approached her again.
“I don’t think he recognized me at first,” Mendoza said, “but then he realized that he had approached me before, and he tried to go in for a hug like he knew me, like he was my friend.”
Mendoza said Larson attempted to block her path and hold her hand but she pushed passed him.
Ann Faris, a first-year in exploration, said she had a similar experience. She said Larson approached her on the Oval before classes started this semester.
Faris said Larson asked if she was from Los Angeles, adding that he had just transferred from University of California-Los Angeles. He said he needed directions to a nearby off-campus restaurant.
“I figured people were still just trying to meet up with someone, because it (was) the first week of school,” Faris said. “I could tell he was weird, but I thought he was just trying to be friends.”
The two exchanged numbers and planned to meet up later on. Faris said she planned to go with her friends the first time, but decided at the last minute to blow off the meeting. Later, though, she said she felt bad and decided to set up another meeting.
That time, Faris went alone to meet Larson. The two went to his apartment on High Street before things became increasingly uncomfortable, Faris said.
“He was really touchy-feely, always grabbing my hands and hugging me and stuff,” Faris said.
Larson then told her he was a law student at OSU at the time, Faris said.
Faris said she started questioning Larson’s motives before she got uncomfortable and left.
Larson said while he was a first-year at OSU three or four years ago, he is no longer enrolled.
The reactions of the women he chooses to approach depend on who they’re with, Larson said.
“They’re two-faced. When I’m actually meeting them, they’re all friendly and bubbly and give me their number,” he said. “Behind my back, when they go home, they’re talking s—.”
He also runs a blog which seeks to help men learn how to win women over. In some cases, Larson said his posts are meant to “evoke rage,” including a post about how to pick up sorority women.
University Police are aware of the allegations, but there are no reports of related crimes on campus so far, University Police Chief Paul Denton said in an email.
“We are remaining alert given the nature of the conduct,” Denton said. “We would advise students if you see something suspicious, say something.”
Mendoza said she has stepped in multiple times when she sees other girls talking to Larson.
“I’ve tried to step in and pretend to be a girl’s friend, made up a name and pulled her to the side so she could get away from him,” Mendoza said.
Larson said he is no longer allowed on campus per university warning, though there have been no official charges against him.
“But I live near campus, so I can walk on High Street,” he said.
Denton said in an email University Police could not confirm or deny that Larson was told he was not allowed on campus. Denton reiterated police were “aware of the concerns that have been raised and would emphasize if (students) see something suspicious, say something.”
Columbus Division of Police Officer Joshua Urlaub said Larson could be toeing the line of legal and illegal if he is too persistent in his pursuit of women.
“It just depends on how far he goes with it,” Urlaub said. “If he’s continuing to harass them, and he won’t take ‘no,’ he’s definitely on the line of a harassment charge.”
Urlaub said anyone who is continually harassed should notify the police immediately.