What college student doesn’t wake up every day and hop online? Facebook, Twitter, Instagram — you name it: College kids are surfing the Internet all the time.
But Taylor Woolrich, a junior at Dartmouth, might be the only college student around whose morning Internet routine includes a prison inmate lookup.
Because Woolrich is dreading the day 67-year-old Richard Bennett goes free.
At the moment the 21-year-old is safe. Bennett is in jail with a $300,000 bail amount and an Aug. 20 court date hanging over his head. The charge? Violating the restraining order Woolrich filed against him and felony stalking, along with other charges, four years after first following Woolrich home from a cafe where she worked as a 16-year-old.
After the restraining order, Bennett kept up his act from afar, harassing Woolrich on social media during her first two years at Dartmouth — even promising he’d fly across the country to visit her at school.
When Bennett was arrested in front of Woolrich’s house the same day she returned home from Dartmouth for a visit, his car was searched and items making up what authorities called a “rape kit” were found, she said: A sweatshirt, firewood, maps of the area, duct tape, a rope tied into a slip noose, hunting knives, and other items, Townhall reported.
“That’s when I realized how serious it was,” she told Fox News.
If convicted Bennett faces a maximum of four years in jail. But if he’s set free, that’s when the nightmare begins again for Woolrich.
“I feel safe for now, but the day he gets out is the day I will have to leave Dartmouth,” she told Fox News.
She’s indicated that she wants to carry a gun while on campus for protection, but the school won’t allow that.
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Woolrich says she inquired about obtaining a permit to carry a concealed weapon in California and learned that the minimum age to get one is 21, though exceptions can be made under special circumstances. She says the Sheriff’s Licensing Division told her she could qualify, and she learned the same exception can be granted in New Hampshire, where Dartmouth is located.
But Dartmouth administrators said “absolutely not,” Woolrich noted.
“There’s no option,” she added. “There’s no one to go to. They don’t want to hear my case.”
Dartmouth’s Department of Safety and Security said to just call campus security for an escort, Woolrich noted, adding that even when she does call security she’s asked to justify her requests and then given a hard time by security officers.
“I got responses such as, ‘You can’t keep calling us all the time,’ or ‘You can only call after 9 p.m.,” she said Tuesday at the annual Students for Concealed Carry conference in Washington, D.C. “I’d like to say that my stalker doesn’t really care what time of day it is. He doesn’t care if it’s light or dark or if I’m on the east coast or the west coast or out of the country. I have an out of control situation and I’m asking for my control back.”
“Unless they have an armed guard in front of my dorm room, I’m not sure how safe I will be,” she told Fox News. “I don’t think there’s much an unarmed guard can do.”
John Lott, president of the gun rights-oriented Crime Prevention Research Center, said Dartmouth is being unjust.
“(Woolrich) has legitimate concern(s),” Lott noted to Fox News. “There’s only so much a restraining order can do.”
“By far, the safest course of action is to carry a gun for protection,” he added, “especially for female victims.”
The Crime Prevention Research Center also published a study, Fox News said, that reported no problems or issues with college-age permit holders on campuses in the nine states — Colorado, Florida, Wisconsin, Utah, Pennsylvania, Oregon, Mississippi, Kansas and Idaho — where they’re allowed to carry concealed handguns in public areas on campus.
Dartmouth officials wouldn’t comment to Fox News in regard to Woolrich’s concerns but said the school’s no-guns policy is needed.
“It’s strictly prohibited and we are not in the habit of making exceptions,” spokesman Justin Anderson told Fox News. “But we certainly do everything we possibly can to make all our students feel safe.”
Here’s Woolrich’s address at the Students for Concealed Carry conference in Washington D.C.: