Vern sex offense reports increase

The number of sexual offenses reported for the Mount Vernon Campus has increased this year, according to University crime log data.

Four sex offense cases have been reported on the Vern for 2011, according to the crime log, while annual data from the University Police Department shows one case was reported last year and none were reported in 2009.

But none of the victims filed police reports, UPD Chief Kevin Hay said, and instead reported the cases to campus security authorities like the Sexual Assault Crisis Consultation team that offers a 24-hour helpline for survivors.

Assistant Dean of Students Tara Pereira, who oversees the University’s disciplinary branches, said she attributes the climbing number of reports on the campus to increased efforts to make students aware of the issue.

She said since last summer, GW has focused on educating students, especially during Colonial Inauguration, about ways to prevent sexual assault.

“It is well established that survivors of sexual assault are often reluctant to report these incidents or seek help after they occur,” Pereira said. “So, to a large extent, we believe the number of reports we are now seeing is a direct result of these concerted efforts.”

Almost 20 percent of females in college are victims of attempted or actual sexual assaults, according to Department of Education data, and nearly 96 percent of attempted rapes go unreported.

“Certainly we have not identified any other factor that would lead to that result,” Pereira said.

The number of students living on the Vern has also risen over the years, from 400 beds in 2009 to 680 in 2010 with the opening of West Hall.

The number of liquor law violations on the campus increased from two incidents in 2009 to 10 in 2010, The Hatchet reported in November.

Hay said it is difficult to determine if there is a correlation between the increased number of liquor law violations and sexual offenses because while victims might have reported cases through alternative routes, they did not choose to file police reports with UPD.

“But it is true, the far majority of sexual assaults we investigate involve alcohol usage, and it’s usually drinking done with someone known to the victim,” he said, adding that cases at GW almost always involve a victim and an acquaintance, rather than strangers.

The Foggy Bottom Campus has faced 13 reported sex offenses for 2011, with one attempted sexual abuse and six off-campus cases reported.

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