UPD warns of sex assault spike

The University Police Department has seen a rise in the number of sexual assault cases reported over the past two weeks.

Campus police received reports of eight sexual assaults in the last two weeks, with at least three of the incidents occurring on campus, according to a crime alert sent to the University community Friday.

“We have had spikes in reporting in the past, but the number of reports we are receiving from off-campus incidents is an anomaly,” UPD Chief Dolores Stafford wrote in an e-mail to The Hatchet.

Two of the assaults – both of which occurred on campus – were reported by victims. Campus administrators reported the other cases.

The first on-campus incident reportedly took place at 2:30 a.m. on Sept. 15 at International House when the alleged victim reported being assaulted by another individual, Stafford said. Both the victim and perpetrator were unaffiliated with the University and were visiting GW friends when the incident occurred. UPD received notice of the incident almost two weeks later, she said. The case was referred to the Metropolitan Police Department, according to the UPD crime log.

The second alleged assault occurred on Sept. 26 in Hensley Hall on the Mount Vernon Campus. The victim reported being assaulted by an acquaintance at about 11:30 p.m. The case has been closed, according to the crime log.

The crime alert stated that campus administrators reported the other six cases. Of the cases reported by administrators, one case occurred on campus, three occurred off campus and the locations of the other two incidents are unknown.

Stafford said some campus administrators are legally defined as campus security authorities.

“Administrators who fit the definition are required to report the incidents to UPD by law,” she said.

Administrators file an anonymous report form that does not include details about the identity of the victim. The victim then chooses whether or not they want to report the incident to UPD.

“Oftentimes they are talking to the administrator to seek guidance about various aspects of the victimization,” Stafford said.

Sexual assault by acquaintances is the most common type on college campuses nationwide. The crime alert cited a Department of Justice statistic indicating that 80 percent of sexual assault cases involve acquaintances of the victim.

The University defines sexual assault as “inflicting any sexual invasion, including but not limited to sexual intercourse, upon any person without the person’s consent,” according to the crime alert.

Stafford said some of the reported incidents did not occur in the D.C. area, but “if a victim needs help and talks to someone on campus who is considered to be a reporting entity by the federal government, then they report the incidents to UPD as required.”

The crime alert also highlighted the role that alcohol plays in sexual assaults, noting that in six of the eight cases reported, either the victim or perpetrator was under the influence of alcohol. Ninety-eight percent of sexual assaults reported to UPD and GW’s Sexual Assault Crisis Consultation Team in the past 15 years have involved alcohol, according to the alert.

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