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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Jan. assault first in year reported to UAPD

The University of Arizona Police Department received its first report of sexual assault on the UA campus this semester, ending a yearlong run of no reports filed to the department.

A female student was sexually assaulted in a parking lot north of Tyndall Avenue between midnight and 1 a.m. on Jan. 16. According to a campus watch bulletin released by UAPD, the assailant is described as a Hispanic or white male with a dark complexion and a thin build. He is also thought to be a driver of a vehicle for an unidentified cab service. The case is currently under investigation.

“We as police are responsible to investigate every sexual assault that gets reported to us to the fullest,” said Sgt. Juan Alvarez, public information officer for UAPD. “We have our own staffed investigators who work with the city’s investigations, and also work closely with the dean of students and Campus Health (Service). So when a person is sexually assaulted we don’t leave them to their own devices, we make sure they get the support they need so they can try and remain successful at the UA.”

According to police records, three sexual assault cases were reported to UAPD in 2010, while none were filed in 2011. The last sexual assault case to be reported to UAPD before the current incident was on Nov. 11, 2010.

“It’s very hard to believe this is accurate,” said Carolyn Fluher, a musical theater freshman when hearing no sexual assaults were reported in 2011 to UAPD. “Sexual assault is a problem that needs to be reported and sometimes just doesn’t.”

Erin Strange, specialist for the Violence Prevention Oasis-Program, a resource provided by Campus Health to educate students on violence and abuse, said a large majority of sexual assault incidences go unreported out of fear or embarrassment from the victim.

“Nine times out of 10, students know their assailant and when we look at the statistics it’s not reflecting what is happening,” Strange said. “For the person victimized, it might feel like there would be more at stake if you talk to the police and know the person, versus being attacked by a stranger.”

UAPD isn’t the only outlet students can use to report sexual assault. Reports of these incidences can also be filed with the UA’s Dean of Students Office under code of conduct violations.

In 2011, three accounts of sexual assaults were reported to the UA’s Dean of Students Office. Keith Humphrey, the dean of students and assistant vice president of Student Affairs, explained that the type of misconduct filed in his office deals with violations of the UA’s Code of Conduct, while UAPD deals with cases that are criminal in nature and can be charged as such.

“Criminal charges have a higher standard of proof, and when you are dealing with someone who is maybe a victim of sexual assault, it’s important that we provide them options about how they want to proceed,” Humphrey said. “Often times, individuals who have been assaulted do not want to go through a lengthy criminal proceeding, so they usually work with our office.”

Humphrey explained, depending on how the victim wants to proceed, a person can file a sexual assault account with UAPD, the Dean of Students Office, both or none at all.

“Even if someone does not file a code of conduct complaint with our office, we still investigate it to make sure there is not a behavior pattern on campus that is unsafe,” Humphrey said.

The Oasis Program also provides counseling for victims of sexual assault as well as friends, roommates and relatives that have also been affected by the incident.

“I think a lot of people don’t report it (sexual assault),” said Rosanna Salazar, a chemical engineering sophomore. “People may get scared or know the person, which might make the whole proceedings uncomfortable, but I think providing professional help and talking to someone is important.”

On top of counseling services, Oasis provides violence prevention programs where students are able to learn about the different variations of violence and sexual abuse, as well as how to protect themselves and alert the proper authority if a situtation occurs.

“We really try to get out there as much as possible to get the dialogue going about what these issues are and how we can all step up and help one another if there is a problem,” Strange said.

While Alvarez said he understands there could be a multitude of reasons as to why a sexual assault may not get reported, he thinks it would be better for students to let the authorities know.

“If anyone is a victim of sexual assault, they really need to report it. We really want to make sure their safety and well-being is looked after first, and then the prosecution can follow later if that is what the victim wants,” Alvarez said. “But we certainly encourage any victims to come out and report it.”

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