Report: Occidental Again Underreports Sex Assaults
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Occidental College, which previously said it failed to report two dozen sexual assault allegations to federal officials, didn’t disclose an additional 27 sex assault reports last year, according to documents, interviews and a review of two confidential federal complaints against the school by a newspaper.
Officials at the small liberal arts college in Los Angeles also may have ignored dozens more reports by students since 2009 because they were made anonymously, the Los Angeles Times reported.
The underreporting could be a violation of federal law.
Last spring, students and faculty members filed two complaints with federal education officials alleging the school showed indifference to sexual assault allegations, discouraged victims from reporting, dragged out investigations and meted out slap-on-the-wrist punishments to offenders. The allegations covered incidents between 2009 and 2013.
They sparked Department of Education inquiries into possible violations of the Clery Act, which requires campuses to disclose all reports of serious crimes that occur within certain geographic boundaries, and Title IX, the federal anti-discrimination law. Those investigations are still underway.
Colleges and universities must submit an annual report to federal education officials under the Clery Act, detailing what crimes have occurred within a certain perimeter of their campus.
Jim Tranquada, a spokesman for Occidental College, told The Associated Press on Saturday that the college has not seen the confidential reports and doesn’t know which cases are involved.
Generally speaking, he said, some sexual assaults reported to a college or university don’t show up in the annual federal report because they occurred outside the geographic boundaries laid out in the Clery Act.
In October, the college acknowledged it had failed to disclose two dozen sexual assaults in 2010 and 2011 and said making those omissions public resolved the situation.
A Times review of two confidential federal complaints found an additional 27 instances last year where allegations should have been disclosed, the paper said.
The federal investigations come amid a national debate over how administrators deal with sexual assault reports. Dozens of campuses across the country, including USC and UC Berkeley, have been the subject of similar complaints.
Administrators began discovering the depth of Occidental’s reporting problems last spring, coming under fire from students and faculty for its response to the alleged rape of a female student in February.
After filing a police report, the woman said she went to the Dean of Students’ office to start a disciplinary action against her alleged attacker but was discouraged from filing a report and told by another dean not to discuss the matter with anyone, according to a detailed account in the federal complaint.
(© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)