Freshman recalls reported attack on campus after Tennessee football game


KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — A University of Tennessee freshman had a rattling experience over the weekend — with some of it caught on camera.

University of Tennessee at Knoxville Freshman Lydia Ernst said she was attacked on campus right after Saturday’s football game by a man she doesn’t know.

She said he hit her multiple times when she was walking near Melrose and Volunteer Boulevard to return to her dorm.

“I just felt the punches and then the next thing I know, I’m in some woman’s arms,” Ernst said. “She’s comforting me; I see people get out of their cars to come run over to me and check on me. It was intense.”

Ernst recorded the moments right before the alleged assault. The video shows her boyfriend getting shoved and threatened.

“I was yelling at [the assaulter] like, ‘Stop, stop!'” she said. “He turns around. He took a good look at me, too, and just hits me multiple times — one in the face,” she said.

Ernst said it started when she, her boyfriend and another friend were walking on campus. Three men were across the street, including the one she says hit her. There was some banter back and forth, though she says she really wasn’t paying attention to what was said.

The banter escalated and turned violent. Ernst now has bruises and a black eye.

    “I haven’t processed it yet,” she said. “I don’t know how to process it; I think I’m still in shock about it. It’s obviously a huge deal, I agree, it’s a huge deal. If I would have seen another girl get punched, I would have felt it. I would have felt what everyone else is feeling. When it’s me, I don’t know how to react because I still can’t believe it.”

    Two days later, Ernst is hoping she and the police can track down the man responsible.

    “No one should be laying their hands on a woman; no one should be violent anyways,” Ernst said. “I’m hoping he’ll be brought to justice. I don’t wish anything bad on anyone, but I’m hoping he gets what’s fair.”

    UT Police say the reported assault is under investigation. Anyone with information regarding the incident should call 865-974-3114.

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