What If You Know Someone Was Sexually Assaulted on a College Campus?

September 21, 2018

Title IX of the 1972 Education Amendments prohibits sexual discrimination in American education centers and universities. Title IX also applies to sexual assault and sexual harassment cases that take place in American schools and universities. Students should know their rights and schools’ obligations under Title IX, and they should also know what to do after a sexual assault or incident of sexual discrimination or harassment on a college campus.

How Common is Sexual Assault on College Campuses?

Women ages 18 to 24 in college are three times more likely to experience a sexual assault than other women, according to findings from the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN),  Women not attending college in the same age range are statistically four times as likely to encounter such a situation. RAINN reports that about 23% of females and 5% of males experience some form of sexual abuse during their undergraduate education. Male students are 78% more likely than male non-students to experience a rape or sexual assault.

Unfortunately, statistics indicate that only about 20% of sexual assaults lead to police reports. There are many reasons behind this, such as victims preferring privacy or a belief that police won’t take their complaints seriously. It is important for victims to report sexual assault and harassment when it occurs, but third parties may also report these incidents.

How to Report a Sexual Assault

A student who has experienced a sexual assault or other Title IX violation should report it to his or her school immediately. Schools have an obligation to investigate and address all complaints of Title IX violations and must take action to address the effects of such an event. Every school should have a Title IX coordinator to manage these claims, and the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights investigates Title IX violations. It’s important to remember whether or not you report the incident to the police is irrelevant when it comes to your school’s obligations under Title IX; however, reporting the incident to the police and having a record on file can help your situation if you decide to take legal action later.

If you witness a sexual assault, an act of sexual discrimination, or sexual harassment, you do not need to be the victim to report these Title IX violations. If you believe your school has failed in its obligations under Title IX, you should report this to the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights as well.

Title IX requires American schools to have policies and procedures for handling sexual assault reports. This could include altering a victim’s class schedule or dorm assignment to prevent run-ins with an alleged abuser. It is ultimately a personal choice whether or not a victim reports a sexual assault or similar crime to the police, but the victim’s Title IX protections stand regardless.

New Title IX Regulations Coming

Over the past several years, some cases have shown abuses of the Title IX system. Since Title IX does not require a police investigation or legal case to take action on a report of sexual assault, there have been cases of universities taking disciplinary action against alleged sexual abusers without due process, and some of the accused have faced punishment for offenses they did not commit. New Title IX regulations would protect the rights of accused individuals to ensure they receive due process before colleges administer punishments. These new regulations also clearly outline reportable offenses and schools’ requirements for handling such offenses.

If you witness any type of sexual assault on your college campus, you should report the incident immediately to the school’s Title IX office and consider filing a report with the police as well. American schools have an obligation to investigate such claims in a timely and efficient manner, and the new regulations also encourage universities to act more quickly and decisively with Title IX-related investigations. Victims of sexual abuse are encouraged to contact the experienced sexual assault attorneys at Estey & Bomberger, LLP about your case today. For a free, private consultation, call (800) 925-0723!