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Victim won't press charges in dorm assault

BY MEGAN SANCHEZ | NOVEMBER 05, 2013 5:00 AM

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During the late hours of Nov. 2 and the early hours of Sunday, a University of Iowa student was assaulted in one of the residence halls by an acquaintance, school officials said.

According to an email sent out by the UI police, University Housing and Dining officials received word of the incident on Sunday evening.

Officials know the identities of both subjects involved in the case. The victim has decided not to press charges, and police are respecting the student’s wishes and refraining from further investigation.

UI spokesman Tom Moore said he could not speak about the case specifically, but in terms of general protocol, the university has the ability to investigate allegations by itself.

“In general terms, the university has the option to take action against any member of the campus community who violates university policies, even if criminal charges are not filed,” he said. “When you’re dealing with a criminal matter, you have to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. The university only has to have a reasonable basis to believe that policies have been violated in order to discipline the alleged violator. So if the university determines that a policy has been violated, it can take action against that person even if no criminal charges are ever brought.”

The UI has an extensive judicial procedure that student suspects must face. Students receive sanctions by a case-by-case basis, which include discussing the student’s innocence, and the student’s denial of the charge. Consequences can range as far as expulsion.

Executive Director of the Rape Victim Advocacy Program Karla Miller said sexual assaults are one of the most under-reported crimes.

“Seventy-five to 85 percent of sexual assaults are estimated to be committed by somebody the victim knows,” she said. “Along with that, it’s hard to believe that somebody you know, and sometimes trust depending on how you know them, would do that to you — would attack you.”

According to a comparison report done by RVAP, which is based on calls received by the organization from fiscal 2012 to fiscal 2013, the number of rape calls went up from 236 to 306.

Of those 306, 135 were acquaintances of the victim, compared with 81 the previous year.

Miller said the number of acquaintance-committed assaults attributes to how the victim responds to the situation.

“If you’re presented with a situation where an acquaintance is assaulting a person, [you] don’t have a map for that, because people we know aren’t supposed to attack us,” she said. “There are concerns about whether it is a stranger or an acquaintance, whether that person will retaliate.”

Moore said the most important lesson students should take away from this incident is there is help out there.

“One of the key factors for students to know is that there is guidance or help or assistance available on campus if they feel they have been a victim of a crime,” he said. “We urge anyone who feels that they have been assaulted … to report it and learn more about what their options include, so they can receive the appropriate help that they need based upon their wishes.”


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