u of i

U of Illinois Police Issue Letter After 3 Sexual Assaults Reported in a Week

Police at the University of Illinois campus in Urbana-Champaign have issued a letter about sexual assaults after three were reported in a little over a week.

Campus police sent out public safety notices via mass emails on Feb. 6, Feb. 9 and Feb. 12 about cases of students who'd been assaulted at a residence hall or fraternity house.

The (Champaign) News-Gazette reports that university police then posted the letter Friday on the department's blog after the "mass emails prompted a number of questions."

The letter focuses on how the campus handles sexual assault reports, addressing concerns about what the university does to prevent assault, why safety notices don't include more specific information, and if offenders are being prosecuted. 

When it comes to safety notices, authorities said publicly releasing identifying information about the crime could, in some cases, be dangerous for the survivor. 

Police also noted that assaults detailed in notices are "only a small fraction of the actual number of incidents." Those that occur off campus are not shared in mass emails, and nearly 90 percent of sexual assaults on college campuses go unreported, according to the university's Women’s Resources Center. 

Of those cases that are reported to law enforcement, police said they often know the identity of the offender – but arrests are rare, most commonly because the survivor asked authorities not to proceed with an investigation. 

"To the legal extent that we can, we always respect the wishes of a sexual assault survivor," U of I Police Chief Jeff Christensen said in the letter. "There are a lot of reasons why a survivor would choose not to pursue an investigation. The crime itself was trauma enough – we want to put the survivor back in control."

U of I police spokesperson Patrick Wade said sexual-assault reports happen at all times of year but "three reports in eight days is a lot," adding that the incidents all involved someone known to the victims and he didn't expect charges to be filed.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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