News

State AG releases guidelines for handling of campus sexual assaults

Rules to help universities and local law enforcement coordinate efforts in investigations

California Attorney General Kamala Harris Wednesday released new guidelines for the handling of campus sexual assault cases spelling out the need for universities to notify and collaborate with local law enforcement in all such cases.

The model memorandum-of-understanding (MOU), released with University of California President Janet Napolitano, victim advocates and law enforcement officials including Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O'Malley, is intended to help universities and local law enforcement coordinate their efforts in campus sexual assault investigations.

It was released in response to a state law, set to take effect July 1, requiring all college campuses to immediately contact law enforcement when a sexual assault occurs. The MOU should help schools and police provide clear, accurate and supportive information to victims and respond effectively to allegations, officials said.

"California has some of the best colleges and universities in the world," Harris said in a statement. "But for far too many hard-working students, the dream of an education from a top school is upended by school violence. We must acknowledge these students' value to our future and give them the respect and dignity they deserve as our next leaders."

The MOU was created by a working group that included O'Malley and agencies including San Francisco police.

"The work we have undertaken will forever impact the way California's universities and colleges address sexual assaults on campus," O'Malley said in a statement.

Universities are not required to use the MOU if they already have agreements in place with local law enforcement that address the new legal requirements, according to UC officials.

The UC released new systemwide policies for the handling of sexual violence and harassment cases last year and adopted standards requiring consent to be unambiguous, voluntary, informed and revocable.

"A primary goal in our efforts at the University of California to prevent and respond to sexual violence and sexual assault has been to make sure law enforcement agencies are more fully engaged with us on this serious issue," Napolitano said.

Studies have found as many as one in five undergraduate students have been a victim of attempted or completed sexual assault, and an estimated 80 percent of those sexual assaults go unreported, according to Harris. Some studies suggest as many as nine out of 10 assaults on campus are perpetrated by repeat offenders, she said.

Related content:

Stanford task force recommends expulsion as 'expected' sanction for sexual assault | April 8, 2015

Stanford under pressure to reform sexual-assault policies | March 20, 2015

The Palo Alto Weekly has created a Storify page to collect news articles, social media reaction and other content related to the ongoing sexual assault issues at Stanford University, from the history of university policy to coverage of student protests in the last year. This page will continue to be updated. To view it, go to Storify.com.

Comments

4 people like this
Posted by Roger
a resident of Evergreen Park
on May 14, 2015 at 11:43 am

One of the biggest incidents involving Stanford, didn't even happen on campus but hundreds of miles away.
Stanford cannot be held accountable for something one of their students do in another state, especially when even the police say there wasn't a case to answer.
Just as in all cases of sexual assault its a police matter.


6 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on May 14, 2015 at 12:17 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Colleges and universities have no more business or expertise in adjudicating sexual assault than they do murder or extortion. Alleged violations of the STATE and FEDERAL LAWS should be handled by criminal justice system. Once those cases are adjudicated then, and only then, should colleges and universities decide if separate institutional sanctions are justified.


7 people like this
Posted by Karen
a resident of Barron Park
on May 14, 2015 at 1:22 pm

If you read about Title IX, this is a federal law that absolutely requires schools/colleges to make it their business and to protect students. The school is required to take immediate action to eliminate the harassment/violence, prevent its recurrence, and address its effects. Even if a student does not want to press charges, the school must still promptly investigate and take appropriate steps to resolve the situation. I think it’s about time schools start following the law.


4 people like this
Posted by Craig Laughton
a resident of College Terrace
on May 14, 2015 at 1:42 pm

>Alleged violations of the STATE and FEDERAL LAWS should be handled by criminal justice system. Once those cases are adjudicated then, and only then, should colleges and universities decide if separate institutional sanctions are justified.

I completely agree. For example, Stanford should not be in the business of automatic expulsion of the accused, before the local police have made a determination (as Michelle Dauber is want to do). I would add that a falsely accused person should have legal recourse against the false accuser (after a police investigation)...and the false accuser should be immediately expelled from Stanford. [Portion removed.]


3 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on May 14, 2015 at 1:51 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Here is a relevant opinion on the subject of appropriate jurisdiction:

"The cause and extent of the problem of sexual assault on campus is hotly debated. But there’s no dispute that the broken way colleges handle these cases is a result of the federal government’s current interpretation of Title IX, the civil rights law that bans sex discrimination in federally funded educational programs (including nearly all colleges, public or private). Regulations from the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights encourage schools to allow victims to decide how and whether to go to police, while demanding that schools conduct what amount to rape trials in campus kangaroo courts, even if the crime is never reported to law enforcement. This has proved to be a mistake."

"Yet the huge costs of this approach are too often ignored. Foremost is the fact that many campus sex crimes are never subjected to professional forensic investigation, leaving perpetrators unpunished and free to commit further crimes"

Web Link


3 people like this
Posted by Joe
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 14, 2015 at 2:24 pm

> If you read about Title IX, this is a federal law that absolutely requires
> schools/colleges to make it their business and to protect students.

Title IX has huge problems. Time to revisit the areas that are not working, and rethink them in light of the many failures and problems that it has created.

Title IX is just a some words on a piece of paper. There is nothing inherent in the political process that guarantees right answers, at least without a lot of review and rework.


4 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on May 14, 2015 at 3:39 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

If a student committed a murder on campus would not the institution insist that that crime be immediately reported to the police? Why should breaking the laws against sexual assault be treated any different?

And THEN the institution can do whatever they please as long as their process also follows the law.

Treating universities as sanctuaries from the laws of the land is a huge mistake and is illegal in itself.


Like this comment
Posted by Joe
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 14, 2015 at 4:00 pm

> If a student committed a murder on campus would not the institution insist
> that that crime be immediately reported to the police?

By no means! In fact, far too many campuses held back stats about crime on campus--so evetually the Clery Act came into existence:

Web Link


1 person likes this
Posted by Susan
a resident of College Terrace
on May 14, 2015 at 8:15 pm

I think the "Jackie" case at the Univ. of Virginia should come into play, here. She lied, and hurt many young men. I agree that the police investigation needs to go forward before any action is taken by the school.


Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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