Last year only five of the 36 reported campus sexual harassment cases were resolved formally, and nine of the 18 reported campus sexual assault cases were resolved formally.
According to a report issued in September by Rebecca Alpert, Chairwoman of Temple’s Sexual Harassment and Assault Oversight Committee, 36 cases of sexual harassment and 18 cases of sexual assault were reported during the 1999-2000 academic year. This may, however, be an inaccurate representation of the number of incidents which actually occurred.
Despite the number of cases reported by the Sexual Harassment and Assault Oversight Committee, Temple University Police crime statistics for 1999 list only eight sexual offenses for all area campuses. Two of those were classified as forcible sex offenses, and there are no reports of involuntary deviant sexual intercourse.
The contradiction in numbers arises because many cases do not even get reported.
“Some people don’t want to go in the system…We don’t push, we feel it’s up to the woman,” said Pamela Freeman, Coordinator of Temple’s Sexual Assault Counseling and Education (SACE).
Sexual assault victims may choose to have the incidents resolved formally or informally.
Formal resolutions involve hearings by the University Disciplinary Committee (UDC) or residence hall procedures. Offenders face penalties, which may include counseling, community service, probation, monetary fines and expulsion from university housing.
Informal resolutions involve counseling, mediation, written reprimands and warnings.
Another option victims may choose is filing criminal charges, in which case the offender may face more than 10 years imprisonment if convicted of rape.
The decision to prosecute, which would lead to police involvement, is up to the victim.
“Police involvement would have to be listed,” said Carl Bittenbender, Managing Director of Temple University Police, referring to the crime statistics.
The way an incident is classified is another possible reason for the disparities in figures. Some incidents may be unfounded, or found to be non-sexual in nature.
In other cases, according to Bittenbender, the most likely scenario is that they are listed as another crime, such as assault, if indeed a crime did occur.
“What’s printed is officially reported crime,” Bittenbender said. “We may never get notified.”
In the event of a rape, the victim is transported to either Jefferson University Hospital, or to Episcopal Hospital, as these are the only hospitals in the city equipped with the rape examination kit.
The rape examination kit is a testing kit and procedure that requires special medical training to administer. Each hospital must have a specially trained member of staff on the premises at all times.
After the examination, the case is turned over to the Philadelphia Police Sex Crimes Unit and Temple University Police.
“We work in conjunction with the city to investigate,” said Michael McFall, Operations Manager for Temple University Police.
Victims are then offered counseling through SACE. Although victims are primarily female, two males did report sexual harassment during the period covered by the report.
The most common form of sexual assault for people between the ages of 15 and 30 is so-called acquaintance rape. Drugs and alcohol are often involved in these cases.
“Your chances increase of being raped in some form when alcohol or drugs are involved,” Freeman said. She also said that leaving drinks unattended may leave someone vulnerable to having her or his drink laced with date rape drugs such as Rohypnol, which she said are common.
“Go with a friend, leave with a friend,” Freeman said for women who are going out and may be in situations where they are at a higher risk.
For those victims reluctant to come forward, Freeman said it is important not to keep the burden of the attack inside.
“It’s important to talk to someone you trust,” Freeman said.