Sex assaults up in 2003, annual report finds

    Forced sexual assaults on campus and in its vicinity have increased, from three in 2002 to nine in 2003, according to the annual Clery crime report in October by the campus police department.

    During the same time period, assaults reported only to the UCSD Police Department have doubled from three reported cases in 2002 to six cases in 2003. The campus police reported no rapes in 2003 — a separate offense for statistical purposes — down from one in the year before.

    Although the reported number of forced sexual assaults has posted a noticeable increase, UCSD Police Department Detective Sergeant Robert Jones said the numbers might not tell the whole story.

    “Out of the six [sexual assaults], five of them were sexual batteries and didn’t amount to rape in the sense that everyone thinks of it,” Jones said.

    For reporting purposes, officers define forced sexual offense as crimes that include all sexual acts directed at another person without his or her consent. These offenses include sexual intercourse and oral copulation, sexual battery and unwanted contact with “intimate parts,” like the groin, buttocks and breasts.

    The technical definition of the violations is broad and the various intensities of each individual situation are different, allowing the university to group and compare statistics with other universities across the nation, according to Jones.

    Jones said the number of reported incidents is relatively low, due to the strong cooperation between the campus police department and the Student Safety Awareness and Sexual Assault Resource Center, in addition to various other campus organizations. He also said that the area surrounding the campus is fairly safe, allowing the agencies to better shape programs and cater to the school community.

    “The number of incidents of sexual assault that occur does not fluctuate that much,” said Jones.

    Jones attributed the decision not to implement new educational and outreach programs to the low numbers, and said the department will work together with other agencies to improve the quality of the current ones.

    The increase in numbers of incidents does not necessarily mean an increase in rape, but shows that more people are willing to come forward and contact the authorities, Student Safety Awareness and Sexual Assault Resource Center Director Nancy Wahlig said.

    “Historically, rape or sexual assault is one of the most underrepresented crimes,” Wahlig said. “And when I see the increase in numbers, I think we are doing a good job in getting the information out.”

    The center offers a variety of resources for sexual assault victims, including rape prevention information and personal counseling, as well as support and preparation for trial — all completely confidential, according to Wahlig.

    Wahlig also said that the campus community is able to both protect and heal victims.

    “The active support of friends is what helps [the victim] heal and recover,” Wahlig said.

    Students are able to call on Community Service Officers, who are available from early evening until 1 a.m. every night of the year, according to the report.

    In addition, the department’s report included the campus’ first sexual hate crime in which sexual orientation of the victim played a role since at least 2001, the most earliest year included in the report.

    However, Wahlig said that much discrimination surrounding sexual orientation has made the crimes difficult to report and track, suggesting that the spike may not be statistically significant.

    The police department prepared the report to meet U.S. Department of Education regulations. Under the statute known as the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act, national public and private universities must disclose statistics regarding crime on campus and its vicinity annually.

    The Clery report is compiled of crime statistics reported by the UCSD Police Department, San Diego Police Department, campus security authorities and UCSD Medical Center. The Clery report is different from other styles of statistics reporting in that it requires the disclosure of student disciplinary referrals that are not required by either state or federal law enforcement, according to the report briefing.

    The act is named after then-19-year-old Lehigh University freshman Jeanne Ann Clery, who was raped and murdered in 1986 while she was asleep in her dorm room. Clery’s parents, in concert with other victims, lobbied Congress to pass the legislation after realizing the Lehigh campus had 38 murders in the preceding three years, according to nonprofit group Security on Campus.

    Revelle College freshman Tracy Ho said she is fairly pleased with the statistics at UCSD and that campus crime rates played a significant role when it came to deciding which college to attend. Ho said she constantly pays attention to her surroundings and that the matter of personal safety is a state of mind.

    “If you look lost or insecure, you stand out,” Ho said. “But because I am comfortable with my surroundings, I don’t think I will be using the escort services.”

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