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Jul 4, 2014 8:29 PM by Marisa Mendelson

Reported sex crimes increase more than 400 percent at the University of Arizona

TUCSON - What's behind a rise in reported sex crimes at the University of Arizona? News 4 Tucson found out within just one year, the U of A saw a more than 400 percent increase.

In 2011, there were three reported forcible sex offenses at the University of Arizona. In 2012, that number grew to 13.

News 4 Tucson spoke with a former University of Arizona student who didn't want us to use her name or show her face.

"I loved the U of A," she said. "I loved my professors, I loved what I was studying."

She says she was a star student. However, she told us everything suddenly changed one night during her junior year.

"I was raped," she said. "To put it simply, I was sexually assaulted and raped by my boyfriend at the time who I also happened to be living with."

The former U of A student says the sexual assault is eventually what caused her to drop out of the school.

"I was an honors student, four-point-0, on the dean's list with distinction and I couldn't concentrate at all," she said.

While that former U of A student says her sexual assault occurred off-campus, News 4 Tucson found out about several that have happened on-campus.

Universities are required to report sex crimes to the U.S. Department of Education. The most recent date available is from 2012. It shows there were 13 reported forcible sex offenses on the
U of A campus that year, which is a more than 400-percent increase from the year before.

"To jump to such a big number just seems kind of crazy to me," said U of A student Zaira Moses.

"I think that's absolutely not okay," said U of A student Casey Jargo.

Marisa Mendelson, News 4 Tucson: "As the dean of students, what's your reaction that there were 13 reported forcible sex offenses on your campus in 2012?"

Kendal Washington White, University of Arizona Dean of Students: "My reaction is that it's disappointing, it's horrific quite frankly."

Dean of Students Kendal Washington White attributes the more than 400-percent increase in reported sex crimes to more education.

"We've had a tremendous increase in the amount of campus education for faculty, staff and students," said Washington White. "And with more education, there's naturally going to be more reports."

According to the Department of Education, out of the 13 reported forcible sex offenses at the
U of A in 2012, 11 of them happened in on-campus student housing facilities.

"There's a number of ways that we're getting the word out and we're looking into even more," said Washington White.

The university has posters plastered across campus and uses various other marketing tools to try to get out the message that there's help. However, experts say sexual assaults often don't get reported at all.

"We still unfortunately have a lot of cultural stigma associated with sexual assault," said Dr. Kathleen Young of the Oasis Program.

Dr. Kathleen Young is a psychologist and the Coordinator of Clinical Services at the Oasis Program at the U of A. News 4 Tucson told her how after looking through dozens of pages of police reports from sexual assaults at the U of A, we noticed many victims stated they feared coming forward.

"Shame is understandable, many people experience that, but that doesn't mean they should be ashamed or think the sexual assault is in any way the victim or survivor's fault," said Young.

When the former U of A student we spoke with finally decided to report what she says happened, she says it wasn't easy.

"Still living with the person that you're reporting a rape against, I mean it wasn't an easy decision," she said.

However, she said she was grateful for the way the university helped her cope with her pain.

"I felt supported through the process, I felt like I got adequate care, medical care and mental care through the process," she said. "It doesn't always look like black and white, but the effects, the trauma can look just as devastating as if it was."

If you're the victim of a sexual assault on a college campus, contact your campus police department. If you go to the University of Arizona, you can anonymously report the crime to the Oasis Program (520) 626-1829.

Resources:
Southern Arizona Center Against Sexual Assault (Offers 24-Hour Crisis Services)
(520) 327-7273
www.sacasa.org

University of Arizona Oasis Program
(520) 626-1829

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