A University employee is recovering after she was attacked in the DeNaples Center this morning.
University Police Chief Don Bergmann said a non-student assaulted University Campus Ministries secretary Joanne Gambacorta shortly after 8:30 this morning. According to Bergmann, Gambacorta was waiting for an elevator on the first floor of the DeNaples Center when she was attacked from behind.
Police say Johnathan Lee Dilliard allegedly took off his belt and struck Gambacorta with it at least once before she fell to the floor. Other employees who witnessed the attack identified Dilliard as the alleged assailant and told him to remain at the scene.
“University Police were there and had Dilliard in custody probably within a minute,” Bergmann said. “He was very cooperative but didn’t seem to exhibit any type of remorse.”
Bergmann said 31-year-old Dilliard is from Allentown but has been living in Scranton for the past year. Dilliard told police that he periodically eats at the DeNaples food court, but he has no affiliation to the University or the victim, according to Bergmann.
Bergmann suggested that Dilliard might not have been in a sound state of mind Tuesday morning when the assault took place.
“He seems to think that he recognized [Gambacorta], but I’m sure that’s not accurate,” Bergmann said. “He didn’t seem to have a full sense of reality. He understood what he did but he clearly was mistaken — he’s never met this employee before.”
Bergmann said he thinks Tuesday’s incident served as a “good reminder” about campus safety.
“The University is an open campus and everyone has to be cognizant of the fact that we’re not immune from things that happen in society,” Bergmann said. “We’ll just have to — as always — do our utmost to keep communications with the University community good and respond appropriately when things occur here on campus.”
In the wake of Tuesday’s incident, Bergmann reminds all members of the University community to remain vigilant.
“Just be vigilant and when you see things that are suspicious or concern you, don’t hesitate to call University Police.”
Dilliard is charged with aggravated assault, simple assault and disorderly conduct/engaging in fighting. He is locked up in the Lackawanna County Jail after failing to post $25,000 bail.
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