Sex assaults go unreported

About 90 percent of universities didn’t report rape on campus last year.

Benjamin Farniok

Nine out of 10 college campuses certified in annual crime statistics that they did not receive a single report of rape last year.

That stark figure — along with the continued underreporting of campus sexual assault — suggests that universities across the nation lack proper reporting mechanisms for victim-survivors, according to a recent analysis of the yearly campus crime data mandated by the Jeanne Clery Act.
 
In 2014, the University of Minnesota reported 13 cases of rape on its Minneapolis and St. Paul campuses.
 
Though colleges are legally required to report annual crime statistics to the Department of Education, the American Association of University Women found that 91 percent of campuses disclosed zero incidences of rape last year.
 
Until recently, few people paid attention to schools’ reporting of campus sexual assault, so universities didn’t always offer efficient ways of reporting the crime, said Lisa Maatz, vice president of government relations for the AAUW.
 
The findings of the reports “defy reality,” Maatz said.
 
Only recently — in 2014 — was was rape first reported as a distinct category.
 
Previously, instances of rape were categorized under forcible sex offenses, which also include forced acts like fondling, said Daniel Alberts, a Clery compliance coordinator
with the Office of the General Counsel. Alberts said the reporting also expanded to include other acts, like penetration with an object.
 
The Clery Act offers some protection for victim-survivors at the University, Alberts said.
 
“Clery has really been working at creating a reporting structure that’s both supportive and inviting to students to come in and make those kinds of reports,” he said.
 
When a campus staff member reports a sexual assault, a Clery officer is required to bring the report to the Department of Education, Alberts said. But the decision to notify law enforcement rests with the victim-survivor, he said.
 
Unfounded sexual assault cases are still included in a university’s Clery statistics. However, the report would note any baseless or false allegations. 
 
Maatz said universities need to work more with surrounding communities to promote the reporting of sexual assaults.
 
“When it comes to campus sexual assault, there is a criminal issue, but there is also a civil rights issue,” she said.
 
Women’s health groups have said many victim-survivors hold back on reporting out of fear.
 
Katie Eichele, director of the Aurora Center, said women generally don’t report sexual assault because they do not believe their assault is serious enough and worthy of attention.
 
She said fear of retaliation and being judged by others also makes them less likely to file a report, Eichele said, adding victim-survivors do not want to be blamed for the incident.
 
Victim-survivors are often revictimized during official investigations of their complaints, she said, reliving traumatic experiences as officials inspect and question the credibility
of their claim.
 
“Victim-survivors have witnessed or experienced institutional betrayal when individuals with power to protect the community hurt the community member,” Eichele said.