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Records show low number of sexual assaults reported to police

BY HAYLEY BRUCE | MAY 12, 2011 7:20 AM


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University of Iowa police have been called to 10 incidents of sexual assault or attempted sexual assault on campus over the past three years — a number officials said represents the hesitation of victims to go to police.

Since 2008, sexual assaults have been reported across campus, from numerous dormitories to Finkbine driving range and other university facilities. One of the alleged sexual assaults happened as recently as one month ago, according to documents obtained by The Daily Iowan through a public-records request.

In the most recent case, a third party reported on April 13 that a UI employee was sexually assaulted in Schaeffer Hall by another employee, who reportedly claimed the sex was consensual. Police documents show UI police officers picked up a rape kit at Mercy Hospital. This incident has not been reported to the public because the alleged victim has not personally approached police about an investigation, said Charles Green, the assistant vice president for the UI police.

Another report detailed in the records has never been reported to the public. In November 2008, documents show UI Hospitals and Clinics staff reported that a woman who had a rape kit completed had gone to Summit Bar & Grill, drank alcohol, and woke up not remembering how she got home.

She reportedly said she woke up with her underwear on wrong and bruises on her arms. That woman never went forward to police, who could therefore not investigate the case.

This case represents an ongoing trend among victims of sexual assault who choose not to go to authorities, local officials said.

The number reported to UI police does not accurately represent the number of women who have been sexually assaulted in the area, said Rape Victim Advocacy Program Director Karla Miller, who noted the program has received 2,082 reports of sexual assault in the same three-year timespan.

Miller said the decision of whether to report is a personal one, which requires the victim to weigh numerous factors. Reasons people hesitate include not wanting people to know, threats from the offender, media coverage, blame from third parties, and the fact victims often know their offenders.

"People come to us for other types of services and counseling, so we're more likely to hear about [sexual assaults]," Miller said. "And we're a confidential resource, so we don't have to report that they came to talk to us."

Green said it is hard to say whether the number of sexual assaults reported over the past three years is high or low.

"I know that as far as reports for this entire county and for other counties that those numbers are likely to be much higher with RVAP, but I certainly don't want to see more, so I hope that number goes down," he said.

Miller also said victims are deterred from reporting because they don't want to go through with the lengthy and often difficult criminal justice process.

"I think what's more telling is the number of reports that the victim may not go ahead with because there isn't enough hard evidence," Miller said. "It isn't because the person isn't telling the truth, but they have to have enough to convince the jury beyond a reasonable doubt, and that's a really high standard."

Nonetheless, law-enforcement officials said they encourage people to come forward if they desire an investigation to ensue.

"People just need to be aware that this can happen and to take the necessary precautions," Green said. "And if anything should happen, students should report it immediately."

The UI has faced two other reports this year — one alleged rape on the Pentacrest and an attempted sexual assault in Stanley Hall.

UI Sexual Misconduct Response Coordinator Monique DiCarlo said while it is too early in her current position to determine whether 10 reports in three years is a lot, it doesn't match national statistics.

"I think the number is low when you look at what the research suggests as far as 1 in 4 four women during their academic career — that's not one fourth of our student population," she said.


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