Since 2002, 55 people have reported being victims of sexual assault to the University Police Department, with no real pattern of increase or decrease, according to a review of UPD records.
Of these cases, 32 were reported rapes – two of which were statutory rapes – 15 were instances of forcible fondling, six were reports of forcible sodomy and two were reports of sexual assault with an object.
As of the 2002-2003 school year, a total of 12 students have been charged with some form of sexual assault. Of those students, three were expelled and four were suspended from GW.
Three students were charged with sexual assault during the 2009-2010 academic year, the most charged in recent years, but only one student was found in violation that school year and was expelled from the University, Assistant Dean of Students and head of Student Judicial Services Tara Pereira said. The rest of the suspensions and expulsions did not follow any sort of discernible pattern.
While not every report of sexual assault goes to trial, GW’s number of reported sexual assaults is higher than the 30 sexual assaults reported to American’s Department of Public Safety, but fewer than the 75 sexual assaults reported to Georgetown’s Department of Public Safety during the same 8-year time period.
While case numbers have varied each year, a spokeswoman for the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network said it is difficult to know year-to-year if there are increases or decreases in sexual assault cases, or if there is merely an increase or decrease in reporting of the cases.
“It’s actually not possible to know which of those theories is correct,” Elizabeth Crothers, a spokeswoman for RAINN, said.
She said college-aged women are four times more likely than any other group to be sexually assaulted, and according to the Center for Public Integrity and a report from the Department of Justice, “roughly one in five women who attend college will become the victim of a rape or an attempted rape by the time she graduates.”
Crothers said RAINN is working to increase reporting rates to police across the U.S., and last month RAINN members testified before Congress about the issue of a lack of data on rapes and other assaults.
RAINN President and Founder Scott Berkowitz testified that the Justice Department estimates 60 percent of rape victims never report the incident to the police.
“Even after all the progress we’ve made – and we have made significant strides in getting more victims to report and improving policing and prosecution – even after years of effort, 15 out of 16 rapists face no consequences for their actions,” he said.
Pereira said that the University takes sexual assault cases very seriously, but students charged and found guilty by SJS are only being charged with violating GW’s Code of Student Conduct. Thus, if a student is found guilty of sexual assault through the SJS process, it doesn’t mean criminal charges are pressed. Pereira said SJS’s definition of sexual assault “is not a criminal code but a university disciplinary code,” and she noted that victims can go forward with SJS and criminal charges if they choose.
“Typically MPD involvement is offered to victims in conversation with GWPD and the Sexual Assault Crisis Consultation Team,” she said.