Jeremiah Billie

Tempe police have arrested a man accused of trying to sexually assault a woman in the Mill Avenue district near ASU early Saturday.

Jeremiah Billie, 22, was arrested in the 200 block of West 5th Street about 3:30 a.m. on suspicion of kidnapping and attempted sexual assault. The woman, 29, told police that Billie had followed her near 6th Street and Forest Avenue after accommodating her request to light her cigarette. Police say Billie continued to follow the woman to College Avenue where he tried to engage her in conversation before forcing her into an alley near University Drive.

A passerby noticed the two struggling, confronted Billie and called 911.

After officers from the Tempe and Arizona State University police departments converged on the scene, they set up a perimeter and apprehended Billie without incident as he tried to flee. He was booked into the Tempe City Jail, police said.

The woman suffered minor scratches.

The alleged attack comes days before ASU begins classes next week.

Since more than 10,000 new students will be in the area in the days ahead, police offered safety tips to those who frequent ASU’s Mill Avenue district:

• Stay alert to your environment. Alcohol dulls your instincts. Acquaintance rapes account for the far majority of rapes, and alcohol is involved in a majority of cases. While the majority of victims are female, males are also the victims of sexual assault. Decision-making ability is impaired as soon as any alcohol hits the system.

• Travel in groups — and avoid isolated areas or going with someone you do not know.

• Let friends know where you are going and when you expect to return.

• Have a buddy system before you go out — and stick with your buddy.

• Don’t ever remain in a “negative” situation. Be aware of the space and people around you.

Contact writer: (480) 898-6533 or msakal@evtrib.com

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