At 3 p.m. on Oct. 17, a campus security authority reported to public safety an incident which Assistant Director of Lafayette College Public Safety and Chief of Police Jim Meyer classified as an indecent assault. The incident occurred on Oct. 14 at an unknown location and an unknown time.
Director of Public Safety Jeff Troxell added that the report did not identify a victim, and so the victim is not known to public safety. Campus security authorities, which Troxell said could be “a coach, a faculty member, or somebody in charge of a group or organization,” are required to report date, time and location of any incident of sexual violence if they know these details.
An indecent assault is defined by Pennsylvania law as contact with the complainant against their will or intentionally causing the complainant to come into contact with seminal fluid, urine or feces for the purpose of arousing sexual desire in the perpetrator or the complainant. In order for a crime to be classified as indecent assault, this might occur without consent, while the victim is unconscious, or by force, among other conditions.
Troxell said that although public safety’s investigation is active, it is effectively stunted until more details become available. According to Meyer, public safety had not spoken directly to the victim as of Thursday.
Public safety reported eight rapes in 2015 in its annual crime statistics report, up from six in 2014 and four in 2013.
Meyer wrote in an email that indecent assaults are reported in Public Safety’s Annual Safety and Security Report under the category of sex offenses. Troxell said that depending on the details reported, the incident might be classified under the specific sexual offense of fondling, which encompasses any unwanted, inappropriate touching.
However, Troxell said that it has happened that there is not enough information to classify an incident in public safety’s annual report. Therefore, a reported incident may be included in the crime log but not in the annual report. Whether or not this would apply to this report of indecent assault, Troxell could not say.
“Depending on the information we have, we’ll put it in our crimes log, but as far as statistics in here, we wouldn’t have to show it because we wouldn’t know how to classify it,” Troxell said. “Sometimes that happens, there may be a case where there’s just not enough information to [classify it].”
Troxell said that this report is another instance of an increased amount of sexual assaults being reported on campus, and that it is a good thing that people are coming forward.
“The more we know and the more people come forward and the more that’s reported in the more detail, the better for us to get to the bottom of it,” he said.