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Three Arrests Later, BCSO Still Searching For Suspects In Sex Assault Caught On Video

Bay County Sheriff's Office

A third college student has been arrested in connection with a sexual assault that occurred during Spring Break in Panama City.  Law enforcement officials are looking for another suspect—but have little to go on.

The Bay County Sheriff’s office received a video of a woman being assaulted in early March by multiple men on a beach in broad daylight. There were hundreds of people nearby and the victim was unconscious at the time. The Sheriff’s Office circulated an image of the woman’s tattoos, says the victim recognized herself and called authorities. The victim says she doesn’t remember what occurred, and believes she may have been drugged.   Two Troy University students were arrested for their role in the assault. One is a member of the school's track team. A third man, a student at Middle Tennessee State College, has also been arrested. Police don't believe the Troy students knew the other student involved.

But there’s at least one more person in the video law enforcement is struggling to identify. A Bay County sheriff spokeswoman says all they have to go on is an image of a hand.

The attack came to light after an investigation into a Troy, Ala., shooting, where police found the video on the phone of a witness.

Other videos of sexual assaults have surfaced. And several high-profile incidents have marked this year’s Spring Break. Late last month seven people were shot while attending a house party near the beach. Three were college students. And early on in the Spring Break season, a 17-year-old was videotaped naked on a beach surrounded by men. Law enforcement made contact with the woman and found she was safe and unharmed.

The Bay County Sheriff's office is struggling to keep up with an uptick in incidents. It's lost 30 positions in the past five years, and a Sheriff's spokeswoman says employees such as the agency's information technology employees, and its lead attorney --also sworn officers--have pitched in to help. So have other law enforcement agencies in surrounding counties.

*Correction: An earlier version of this story reported the two Troy university students were a football player and a member of the track team. Only one is a student-athlete, and he runs track.

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Lynn Hatter is a Florida A&M University graduate with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. Lynn has served as reporter/producer for WFSU since 2007 with education and health care issues as her key coverage areas.  She is an award-winning member of the Capital Press Corps and has participated in the NPR Kaiser Health News Reporting Partnership and NPR Education Initiative. 

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