With five reported sexually-related offenses at Temple since the start of the semester, police are pointing to a correlation between sex crimes and student drinking that Campus Safety Services has been cracking down on this fall.
“The majority of our sexual assaults are directly related to alcohol or some other substance,” Acting Executive Director of CSS Charlie Leone said. “Our goal is to keep the students safe, even if it means protection from themselves.”
According to Temple police statistics published in accordance with the Clery Act, five sexual offenses have been reported in their catchment area this year.
Three of the five sexually-related offenses were reported sexual assaults, according to the crime logs. Two of those incidents occurred in student housing.
Just before the start of the semester on Aug. 22, a non-Temple student reported that she was sexually assaulted in University Village to Philadelphia Police’s Special Victims unit. CSS was notified by SVU on Sept. 25, Leone said, though the case was handled by Philadelphia Police. No arrest was made in this incident and Leone said alcohol was not involved.
A similar incident occurred that same week on Aug. 25, when a student in Temple Towers reported being sexually assaulted. Leone said alcohol was involved with the incident and the student decided not to press charges.
Another case of sexual assault occurred around midnight on Sept. 8. A Temple student allegedly assaulted a female student inside a private residence on the 1800 block of North 17th Street. Like the previous incident, the victim chose not to continue with criminal prosecution. Leone said alcohol was not involved in the incident, which he describe as “acquaintance rape.”
During the same time period in August and September 2012, CSS reported the same number of sexual assaults: three.
However, there were more than 250 separate incidences of underage possession and consumption in the first four weeks of this semester, a steep rise from just six in the same time period a year before.
“The drinking may seem like more, but we have a coordinated effort using various law enforcement resources trying to curtail drunken behavior,” Leone said. “That behavior leads to sexual assaults.”
In one incident that was reported as an indecent assault, a female Temple student reported being fondled on her buttocks while she was walking along the 1100 block of West Diamond Street late at night on Sept. 5. No arrest was made in relation to this incident.
The fifth incident of a sexually-related offense occurred on Sept. 3 in the Montgomery Parking Garage when a man was arrested by Temple Police for exposing himself to officers.
Twenty-nine-year-old James French of the 5300 block of Washington Lane was immediately processed and charged with indecent exposure. There was no indication that alcohol was involved in this incident, Leone said.
“I just feel sad whenever I hear about any sexual assaults in Philadelphia,” said junior Sieara Mcleod. “Lately, I haven’t heard any alarming assaults taking place, and I hope it stays that way.”
Senior Amanda Leah Abercrombie said she believes Temple should be an environment that she can safely absorb the scholastic lifestyle.
“It is a shame that these crimes are happening. You can’t even trust the students you go to class with,” Abercrombie said. “Temple students form a community and we’re supposed to protect it, not violate it.”
Outside of campus, Philadelphia has seen an approximate 53 percent drop in sexually-related offenses – not including rape – which has increased 22 percent from the previous year.
Eddie Barrenechea can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @EddieB_TU.