No suspects in semester’s six reported sexual assaults

An+officer+stands+next+to+a+public+safety+car.+%28Elizabeth+Lucy+15%29

An officer stands next to a public safety car. (Elizabeth Lucy ’15)

Kathryn Kelly

This semester, there have been three rapes, three sexual assaults and one indecent assault reported to Lafayette College Public Safety. The investigations into these incidents haven’t yielded any new information since they started, leaving all of them effectively stunted, public safety officials said.

There are no suspects for the any of these alleged incidents and public safety currently has no reason to believe any of them are connected in any way, Associate Director of Public Safety and Chief of Police Jim Meyer said.

The third rape reported this semester occurred on Oct. 1. A third party whose identity public safety could not disclose reported the alleged incident on Nov. 13. This third party could have been a friend of the victim or a campus security authority. The location of the incident is unknown to public safety.

The number of rapes reported to the college has been increasing over the years. In 2013, four rapes were reported over the course of the year to public safety, according to its annual security report. In 2014, six were reported, and, last year, eight rapes were reported.

This leaves at least 20 reported rapes in the last three years alone that have not resulted in any arrests. There are other avenues victims can take to handle their cases in ways that don’t involve pressing criminal charges, like disciplinary proceedings through the college. Some of these cases have been handled within the college, Meyer said.

Complainants can report to a campus security authority, such as the Title IX Coordinator Amy O’Neill, who has to report the date, time and location of incidents to public safety under the Clery Act. However, campus security authorities are not required to report other details if the complainant does not desire it.

The last time a report of a sexual offense that occurred on Lafayette’s campus resulted in an arrest of a Lafayette student and trial by jury was in 1995. Then-student Kurt Fischer was charged with a few counts of sexual offenses when a female student alleged that he had forced himself on her. He was found guilty of first-degree sexual assault in 1997 and sentenced to 2 to 5 years in prison, according to the 1997 Morning Call articles covering the trial.

Although there has been a lack of progress in the investigations of sexual offenses reported this year, Meyer said that the most important thing is that victims are beginning to feel more comfortable coming forward. The number of rapes and sexual assaults reported is in reality only a small portion of what actually occurs, he said.

The National Sexual Violence Resource Center reports that 63 percent of all sexual assaults go unreported to authorities, and that “one in five women and one in sixteen men are sexually assaulted while in college.”

“We’re trying to encourage people to come forward [by declining to reveal who reported it],” Meyer said. “We don’t want people to be hesitant to report this information. And we’re trying to encourage the victims, and even the CSAs to come forward, with as much information as we can so we can move forward to be helpful in these investigations.”