The Title IX office has received 62 reports of Title IX offenses, ranging from non-consensual sexual intercourse to relationship violence, since fall 2014, including 14 reports since Jan. 22, 2015, Kerry Fankhauser, deputy Title IX coordinator and associate dean of Westhampton College, wrote in an email.
Fankhauser stressed that these reports are categorized when the Title IX office receives them, and can change as new information arises during the investigation.
The University of Richmond Police Department, which is Richmond’s Clery reporter, has recorded 13 forcible sex offenses, including three in 2015, that occurred on Richmond’s campus since September 2014, Richmond Police Chief David McCoy said.
The Clery Act, originally passed as the Campus Security Act in 1992, requires colleges and universities to disclose information about crimes – "much more than sexual assault,” McCoy said. Multiple amendments have expanded the reporting requirements beyond sexual assault, according to the Clery Center. As Richmond’s Clery reporter, URPD maintains the Clery statistics, which are collected university-wide, McCoy said.
Despite the number of reports both URPD and Title IX have recorded, URPD has only sent out one timely warning regarding a sexual assault in 2015.
Simonds said federal regulations, continuing threat and timeliness determine whether URPD sends out a timely warning email.
“There’s a lot that goes into whether a timely warning gets issued or not, and it’s based on what federal law requires,” Simonds said. “One of the most important factors that’s considered is continuing threat.”
THE SOLE TIMELY WARNING
URPD used Yik Yak to investigate an alleged sexual assault that occurred either late Feb. 7 or early Feb. 8 at a fraternity event on Richmond’s campus but has not been able to substantiate anything so far, McCoy said.
“We tried to vet an anonymous situation, but we were unable to substantiate anything,” McCoy said, “so it’s not fair for us to say who might have been involved. … It’s just not right because we got nothing…to this date.”
The case is still open, he said, but the police do not have much information right now.
URPD sent students the timely warning email Feb. 12. It stated that a sexual assault occurred on Richmond’s campus approximately five days earlier, which was all the information URPD could provide at the time, Simonds said.
Simonds could not say specifically where the alleged assault occurred, because the police had not received that information, she said.
Police can only provide information based on what the victim provides, and “the victim has not spoken to nor reported to the university police,” Simonds said.
The Title IX office is running a separate investigation on the alleged assault, Simonds said.
Rumors and accusations posted by users in or around campus flooded the local Yik Yak message board at an abnormal rate the night the sexual assault occurred.
“I think it would be irresponsible if law enforcement just ignored those public, anonymous posts,” McCoy said. “But then I think it’d be just as irresponsible if we were to comment on it without any factual basis.”
Yik Yak information often disappears on the app overtime, and Yik Yak will only retain data for law enforcement.
“Due to the real-time nature of Yik Yak, some information may be stored for only a very brief period of time,” according to its website. “Yik Yak will not retain data for law enforcement unless it receives a valid preservation request.”
After a tumultuous year regarding campus sexual misconducts nationwide, in Virginia especially, the Virginia General Assembly is working to create legislation that changes the way colleges and universities handle sexual misconducts.
McCoy said he was confident the Virginia General Assembly would tighten the commonwealth’s laws regarding the handling of reported sexual assaults on college and university campuses.
“With the Rolling Stone article, the Hannah Graham case, there is going to be some action taken in the Virginia General Assembly,” McCoy said. “Something is going to become law, and we’re working with our legislatures to assure that the law is fair.”
Discussion is already swirling in the Virginia General Assembly.
On Jan. 12 Del. Eileen Filler-Corn, D-Fairfax, proposed a bill that would mandate college officials and local police report campus sexual assaults to the local commonwealth’s attorney, wrote Clayton Helms, The Collegian editor-in-chief and Capital News Service reporter.
As the system currently stands, police often receive reports from Title IX offices without enough information to pursue an investigation, Helms reported.
“Title IX is legally obligated to do an investigation,” Simonds told Helms. “But it’s hard to do an investigation if you have limited information.”
A different bill with similar intentions received support from both the House and the Senate.
The House unanimously voted to back the Senate Feb. 18 on Bill 712, which would require officials at public colleges and universities to report a victim’s sexual assault accusation to the school’s Title IX coordinator, who would then report the allegation to a review committee and eventually law enforcement, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reported.
Laws passed in the prior year by the Virginia General Assembly generally became effective July 1.
“There will be a law coming out on July 1 impacting universities to some degree,” McCoy said.
UPDATE: This article previously stated, “Certain crimes, such as stalking and sexual harassment, are not included in these Clery statistics,” which McCoy said was incorrect. This article was updated with correct information at 8:00 p.m. Monday.
Contact reporter Jack Nicholson at firstname.lastname@example.org