Sexual assaults under-reported in official campus tallies

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LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) — University of Kentucky police reported 12 sexual assaults on campus in the 2013-14 school year. That same year, 67 people went to the UK Violence Intervention and Prevention counseling center to say they had been victims of sexual assault.

The same disparities occurred on some other college campuses in Kentucky, according to the Lexington Herald-Leader (

The University of Louisville and Western Kentucky University each reported one sexual assault that same school year.

The Lexington newspaper reported that 43 people went to UofL's Prevention, Education and Advocacy on Campus and in the Community center. The WKU counseling center saw 21 victims. The counseling center numbers were collected by the Herald-Leader through open records requests.

The first set of numbers was posted by the U.S. Department of Education as part of the Clery Act, federal reports that use campus data to tell the public about crime on campus. But the official tallies are missing a big part of the picture about campus sexual assault.

At Kentucky's public universities that track both sets of data, the gap is wide.

"It is a very small slice of what is really going on," UK's VIP Center Director Rhonda Henry said of the Clery reports, which were required in a 1990 law after the 1986 rape and murder of Lehigh University freshman Jeanne Clery.

Some universities, like Murray State University, say their counseling center is not required to compile sexual assault numbers, and therefore does not, the newspaper reported.

However, not even the larger numbers paint a complete picture, given that most experts estimate one in every five college women will be sexually assaulted during their college years.

The gap highlights how complicated the issue of campus sexual assault is and why, despite national attention in the past two years — including a White House summit that led many universities to update their regulations — it's such a difficult problem to solve

Clery reporting by the police includes only those crimes that take place on campus.

The VIP Center and other college counseling centers help anyone, whether the crime took place within the confines of campus or anywhere else. Center counselors guarantee confidentiality and merely explain to victims what their options are.

Most of those victims choose not to report the crime to campus authorities or the police. Nationally, about 80 percent of sexual assaults go unreported, and that number may be even higher on college campuses.

One reason so few victims go to campus police or other authorities is because many of them know their attacker, and they worry how they will fare in front of authorities or a school's administrative hearing process. That's despite federal data showing that only between 2 percent and 8 percent of all rape accusations are false.

"There is a huge problem with under-reporting," said UK Vice President of Student Affairs Robert Mock. "Many of them believe the system doesn't believe in them."

One Transylvania University student, who had contacted the Herald-Leader and other media outlets, did report her assault by another student, but says she wouldn't do it again.

"I would say it's not at all surprising that people don't report," the student said. "I had an awful experience at my school and I understand why people wouldn't go through it."

She said that after she reported her experience to the Title IX office, university officials told her not to speak of her experience to anyone, and, before she complained, were going to hold a hearing with her assailant in the room.

Transy officials declined to speak about the student's case, but spokeswoman Michele Sparks said Transy is in compliance with all the new Title IX requirements.

"We are very clear about this and try to be there for our students," she said.

Sparks said the student's hearing was the first one since the new Title IX policies have been put in place.

According to documentation provided by the student, the hearing panel found the accused student to have violated the school's harassment policy.


Information from: Lexington Herald-Leader,

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