GW reports eighth-most sexual offenses among private universities

Updated: July 1, 2014 at 9:25 a.m.

GW reported the eighth-most sexual offenses on its campus among private universities between 2010 and 2012.

The University counted 37 reports of forcible sexual offenses in those three years, according to Department of Education data.

Sexual assault is one of the most underreported crimes nationwide – only about 12 percent of victims come forward – and fewer reports at a university does not necessarily point to fewer assaults, experts say.

GW came in at No. 26 among more than 1,500 universities nationwide with the most reported forcible sexual offenses, which include rape, forcible sodomy, forcible fondling and sexual assault with an object.

Vice Provost for Diversity and Inclusion Terri Harris Reed, who oversees GW’s compliance with federal anti-discrimination law, did not immediately return a request for comment.

Gallaudet University tallied the highest number of reported incidents among D.C. universities, with 43 cases, while Georgetown University reported 15 and American University reported 13.

In 2012, GW reported 0.39 offenses per 1,000 students, the Washington Post reported. Gallaudet University had the highest rate of reported offenses, with more than 11 per 1,000 students in 2012, according to the Post’s analysis.

More than half of all colleges with more than 1,000 students received at least one report of a forcible sex offense in 2012, the Post reported.

As the Department of Education investigates 64 colleges for their handling of sexual assault cases, universities across the country are weighing strategies to combat sexual violence on campus and encourage victims to report incidents.

Two of GW’s peer schools, Boston and New York universities, reported 24 and four incidents, respectively, between 2010 and 2012.

Pennsylvania State University had the highest number of reports – 84 – likely a lingering result of the sex abuse scandal that rocked the campus in 2011, the Post reported.

Harvard University, which is under investigation by the Department of Education, came in second place on the list with 83 reported incidents.

Colleges are required to report sexual assaults and all crimes that occur on campus under the federal Clery Act, a law passed in 1990 that lays out rules for compiling crime data and issuing safety warnings.

In April, a White House task force released a 23-page report with recommendations for how colleges could improve their responses to sexual assault, including conducting anonymous surveys, holding bystander intervention training and ensuring confidentiality in reporting.

GW conducted its first anonymous survey about harassment, stalking and dating violence this spring and has met many of the report’s other benchmarks.

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