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BCPD Responds To Increase In Reported Sexual Assaults In 2013

The latest figures reported in the University’s Annual Disclosure of Crime Statistics—a public report federally mandated under the Clery Act—show an increase in the number of forcible sexual assaults reported at Boston College in 2013.

Last year, 11 instances of sexual assault were reported to the University, a rise from five in 2012 and seven in 2011, all of which were documented as having occurred in dorms or residential facilities, and only two over the last three years as having occurred off campus.

“The increase in the number of reported sexual assaults may be due in part to the increased national focus on sexual assaults and greater awareness of resources at Boston College,” said Chief of BCPD John King, who oversees much of the University’s coordination of sexual assault response policies, in an email. “In cases where BCPD is involved, we provide support for the survivor, facilitate access to resources, investigate the case, and assist with any court-related matter.”

According to the University’s latest iteration of Student Sexual Misconduct Policy, students seeking to report a sexual assault are encouraged to do so through three types of primary contact groups: anonymous resources such as BC’s hotline for anonymous reporting Sexual Assault Network (SANet); confidential resources, such as a pastoral or professional counselor in University Counseling Services (UCS); and private resources, such as the Women’s Center, Office of the Dean of Students (DOS), Student Affairs Title IX Coordinator Katherine O’Dair, or BCPD.

BC’s Required Disclosures and Reports of Campus Safety and Security Policies define Clery Act crimes as consisting of murder, non-negligent manslaughter, negligent manslaughter, forcible and non-forcible sex offenses, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, motor vehicle theft, arson, domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking—all federally mandated to be publicly reported under the act.

According to King, under circumstances in which BC’s help-seeking policy has been invoked, BCPD officers are trained to perform any necessary immediate medical care to students exhibiting signs of injury until the arrival of Eagle EMS or third-party emergency medical technicians.

“The initial priority is to ensure that proper medical assistance and support are obtained,” King said regarding additional measures taken by the University for students who demonstrate signs of potential harm. “Depending upon the circumstances and nature of the assault, additional investigative resources may be assigned.

“Relevant information available at the initial point of contact with the patient is shared with ambulance service EMTs who, in turn, would be expected to share that with Emergency Department staff,” he said concerning the relay of information about a possible assault from the student to medical professionals.

Other Boston-area campuses have seen even greater increases in the number of reported sexual assaults, totaling 289 documented instances across 29 of the largest New England colleges, according to a recent study by The Boston Globe.

Of the 29 colleges and universities cited in that study, BC ranked No. 16 for the highest number of reported sexual assaults per 1,000 students at .78 in 2013, compared to the average of 1.57 for all 29 schools. That overall average rate for the 29 area schools has also increased from .86 in 2011 and 1.24 in 2012.

After transportation to University Health Services in Cushing Hall or St. Elizabeth’s Medical Center—which follows a BCPD officer’s or resident assistant’s arrival on the scene of a student invoking the help-seeking policy—King noted that students who demonstrate signs of possible assault are subsequently contacted by the University upon their return to campus for further investigation.

“Trained investigators would reach out to the victim to learn more about the assault and to begin an investigation,” he said. “Additionally, notification would be made to the Student Affairs Administrator on call (AOC) to alert him or her of the incident.”

King also said that incidents that occur in on-campus residential facilities are reported by BCPD to the office of Residential Life (ResLife), and that off-campus incidents are brought to the attention of the AOC by BCPD.
“Our primary concern is for the safety of the student,” he said.

Associate News Editor Julie Orenstein and Asst. News Editor Nathan McGuire contributed to this article.

Featured Image by Graham Beck / Heights Senior Staff

October 9, 2014