Task Force To Address Questionable Rape Data

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The UC system has formed an internal task force to investigate allegations that on-campus rape and sexual assault statistics have been inaccurately reported, officials said yesterday.

A series of articles published last week in the Sacramento Bee accused the university of failing to comply with the Clery Act, a federal law regarding the gathering and reporting of sexual assault and rape statistics.

"The UC system does comply with the Clery Act," said Chuck McFadden, a university spokesperson. "However, the Clery Act has been subject to a number of varying interpretations of what it says. There has been a great deal of confusion over the years, over what the act says and what areas are covered by the requirements of the Clery Act."

The act requires all college campuses to gather sexual assault and rape statistics from various campus authorities and make the report available to all students, prospective students, faculty and staff.

It was named after Jeanne Clery, a former student at Pennsylvania's Lehigh University who was raped and strangled in her dormitory room by a fellow student in 1986.

"Any accusations that the university is seeking to avoid compliance with the Clery Act or lull students into a false sense of security is absolute nonsense," McFadden said.

The Sacramento Bee articles focused on UC Davis and alleged that the campus failed to include rapes and sexual assaults reported to university authorities other than the police department, which would be a violation of the Clery Act. The UC Davis Campus Violence Prevention Program counseled 186 women who said they were victims of sexual assault, domestic violence, stalking and hate crimes in 1998, the newspaper said.

UC officials denied allegations, however, that they try to hide crime statistics in order to make the nine campuses appear safer.

"The University of California is emphatically not seeking to hide or disguise crime statistics," McFadden said. "Furthermore, all of the campuses within the UC system conduct extensive and high visibility campaigns to alert students to the potential dangers of crime on campus."

McFadden said each UC campus has police and counseling services available to students who have been victims of rape or sexual assault.

The task force will investigate the methods of gathering crime statistics at all the UC campuses.

"In light of the vagueness of the Clery Act and differing interpretations of what it means, the Office of the President is in the process of appointing an internal task force to see if we're doing as good a job in complying with the Clery Act as we think we are," McFadden said.

Due to the complexity and vagueness of the Clery Act, colleges nationwide are often confused as to how they should comply with the law, he said.

"It's a national problem and has been for sometime and is certainly not something that just concerns the UC," he said. "This goes coast to coast."

McFadden said if a UC student who was raped in high school sought counseling at a UC campus for recurring trauma caused by the act, the crime would count as a sexual assault crime reported to a UC authority. He said, however, he did not think crimes that did not take place on a UC campus should be counted in the campus crime statistics.

In 1999, there were 14 rapes and five attempted rapes reported on the nine UC campuses, according to the UC Police Department Annual Report and Crime Statistics. The number of rapes increased from 10 in 1998.


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