Stanford report: Sex offenses, hate crimes up | News | Palo Alto Online |


Stanford report: Sex offenses, hate crimes up

Annual report details campus crime statistics

While Stanford University saw a decline in some crimes in 2016 — alcohol arrests, drug violations and domestic violence, for example — others increased, including sexual offenses and hate crimes.

Stanford released on Friday its annual Safety, Security and Fire Report, which details crimes statistics the university is required to report publicly under federal law. The data includes students, faculty, staff and campus visitors.

In 2016, 45 sexual offenses were reported to university officials, up from 39 the prior year and 30 in 2014.

Last year's total includes 33 rapes (which includes sodomy, sexual assault with an object and oral copulation; three cases involved multiple counts of sexual assault, resulting in 30 unique reports) and 12 incidents of fondling, defined by the university as "the touching of private body parts of another person for the purpose of sexual gratification, without the consent of the victim, including instances where the victim is incapable of giving consent because of his/her age or because of his/her temporary or permanent mental incapacity."

In 2015, there were 25 reported rapes and 11 instances of fondling, according to the report.

Last year, there were no reports of dating violence (compared to one the year prior) and lower rates of domestic violence (nine total cases compared to 12 in 2015). Stalking was slightly up in 2016, however, with 21 total cases compared to 18 the year before.

The "vast majority" of sexual offenses were reported to the university's Title IX office, which is charged with the response, investigation and adjudication of incidents that fall under the federal anti-discrimination law, according to a university press release on the safety report.

Lauren Schoenthaler, senior vice provost for institutional equity and access, said in the release that Stanford is "hopeful" the uptick is a "reflection that more of our students are willing to engage with the Title IX office to resolve and redress their concerns."

The press release attributes the rise in sexual offenses to "increasing awareness of students regarding what conduct constitutes an assault, and a decreasing stigma around bringing forward a report."

Stanford has taken steps in recent years to ease the reporting process for people who have experienced sexual violence, including by promoting the availability of a 24/7 confidential support team, adding new training for all incoming undergraduates and piloting an online platform that allows students to record sexual misconduct and decide later if they want to pursue a formal investigation.

This summer, the university also released a Title IX progress report with a higher level of detail on reports of sexual violence. The university said it intends to release such a report annually.

Of the reported rapes in 2016, 26 took place in student residences. Two were reported to the Palo Alto Police Department, and five were investigated by both Stanford's Title IX office and police "at the request of the victim," the release states. No charges or convictions were made in those five cases, according to the university. In 10 cases, the suspects were unknown or the person who said they were assaulted declined to identify the suspect.

Of the 11 reported rapes Stanford investigated, about half (five) resulted in formal hearings and half (five) in non-hearing resolutions, in which the university decides that a "reasonable" hearing panel could find that the alleged conduct occurred, and both parties agree to an outcome such as a campus ban or stay-away order instead of proceeding to a formal hearing with a potential finding of responsibility. Non-hearing resolutions cannot be appealed.

The five hearings resulted in three findings of responsibility with penalties of suspension and two findings of no responsibility, according to Stanford. The university issued a "no-charge" decision in one case involving a domestic violence report — meaning the Title IX coordinator concluded that a hearing panel could not find by the preponderance of the evidence standard (it's more likely than not that the conduct occurred), according to the report.

Of the nine reports of domestic violence in 2016, Stanford investigated the four in which students were involved. Two cases resulted in non-hearing resolutions; one in a hearing with a finding of responsibility; and one in a no-charge decision.

Most of the stalking reports involved a Stanford-affiliated victim "receiving unwanted attention" from someone outside of the Stanford community, the release states. In the five cases where the reported stalker was a Stanford student, the university issued one non-hearing resolution, two informal interventions (directing the individual to cease contact) and no action in the last case at the request of the person who was reportedly stalked.

There were four aggravated assaults reported last year, two of which were associated with a student residence.

Though reports of hate crimes are still relatively low on Stanford's campus, they have doubled since 2014. There were three hate crime reports in 2014, two in 2015 and six last year.

In 2016, Stanford saw three vandalism incidents based on religion/nationality in which swastikas were painted on signs on campus, another vandalism case in which a racial epithet was marked on a restroom mirror, one reported threat of physical violence that targeted an individual based on perceived sexual orientation and one reported battery targeting an individual based on race, according to the report.

In other crime categories, Stanford saw a decrease in alcohol arrests — 62 in 2016 compared to 70 in 2015. There was one fewer drug arrest (19) in 2016 compared to the year before.

Burglary rates remained steady in 2016, with 56 total reports in 2016 compared to 57 the year before.

The university press release quotes Stanford Department of Public Safety Director Laura Wilson encouraging all members of the Stanford community to report crimes.

"With the current national discussion about race and fears about what could happen if one is undocumented, Wilson said it was important that community members not be reluctant to involve law enforcement and emergency medical personnel," the release states.

"If someone needs medical attention or if you think they pose a threat to themselves or to others, please use the resources which are available, including the police and emergency medical personnel," Wilson said. "Failing to call 911 could result in a tragic outcome and that would be antithetical to the value we place on the safety and well-being of our community."


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20 people like this
Posted by student
a resident of Stanford
on Oct 2, 2017 at 3:29 pm

Is anyone researching if crime is really increasing or if more victims are coming forward after Brock Turner and Donald Trump publicized these types of crimes?

3 people like this
Posted by How
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 2, 2017 at 9:22 pm

How would one research assaults that were not reported? Ask around? Would the information gleaned really be useful?

6 people like this
Posted by student
a resident of Stanford
on Oct 2, 2017 at 11:16 pm

@How - there are lots of really smart people right here that could develop a methodology that would at least give us meaningful insight into what is happening. If there is a conflict of interest in researching your back yard, I'm sure they have unbiased colleagues who could do the work.

8 people like this
Posted by Bonnie Dunn
a resident of Woodside
on Oct 3, 2017 at 9:04 am

[Post removed.]

17 people like this
Posted by C
a resident of College Terrace
on Oct 3, 2017 at 3:12 pm

I hear ya student!

It's not just the publicity of that particular travesty of injustice, however, which may be driving the increase of reported incidents vs any real change. (For the record: anybody found molesting an unconscious girl behind a dumpster deserves way more than a slap on the wrist.)

We are creating society of victim/crime worship, where everyone's minor grievances and inconveniences are now classified as 'crimes'. Rape has always been rape. Violence has always been violence. 'Real' racism has always been racism (although this in itself isn't a crime). Today, however, the very definitions of these words are ever expanding. Moral equivalency is skewed beyond recognition. Disagreeing with someone's politics is now the equivalent of racism. Asking someone for a date is now tantamount to harassment. Punching someone in the face is no longer just assault. If they are a different sexual orientation, it is now a hate crime with special circumstances and added penalties.

Conversely and simultaneously, true crime is minimalized and encouraged. Brock for example. Jails releasing prisoners early. Raising the minimum dollar amount one needs to steal before it is considered a felony, etc, etc.

We combine not issuing fair judgments for truly serious crime, and at the same time dilute the meaning of criminal acts by criminalizing virtually everything. Combine this with the media sensationalizing crimes which fit a it's political narrative and sells papers and pushes an agenda, I can see how the numbers may not necessary reflect a true change in the facts.

Crimes and criminals have always existed, but the definitions are so blurred to be meaningless. Victims may believe they were victimized beyond what the facts bear out.

Conversely, the flip side is that victimizers may not necessarily see themselves as doing anything wrong if there is no longer a line between date and date rape. What's to stop them crossing that line when the moral equivalency issue has minimalized the true meaning of rape and the consequences are practically eliminated.

4 people like this
Posted by C-
a resident of College Terrace
on Oct 3, 2017 at 3:23 pm

[Post removed.]

2 people like this
Posted by @C-
a resident of Mountain View
on Oct 3, 2017 at 3:44 pm

[Post removed.]

8 people like this
Posted by @@c
a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 3, 2017 at 4:19 pm

[Post removed due to deletion of referenced comment.]

2 people like this
Posted by @Barron Park
a resident of Mountain View
on Oct 3, 2017 at 5:16 pm

[Post removed.]

5 people like this
Posted by Rob
a resident of Downtown North
on Oct 3, 2017 at 9:23 pm

I have never understood why Universities are responsible for, or given the authority to investigate and prosecute sexual assault cases on their campuses. It seems like such an obvious conflict of interest where the desired result has almost always been to suppress, ignore and hope it all quietly disappears.

4 people like this
Posted by Don't you see?
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Oct 5, 2017 at 1:36 pm

I believe that sexual attacks are on the rise due to the easy availability of internet porn and related twisted fantasies - so whatever the guys see, makes them want to try it in real life ...

Like this comment
Posted by Palo Alto Grandma
a resident of Crescent Park
on Oct 8, 2017 at 6:11 pm

Sexual harassment is a euphemism for what these assaults are all about. It's about violence and domination of someone perceived to be weaker than the person doing the assaulting. It's a physical and mental, yes mental, attack that causes grave damage that lasts for a very long time.

If you haven't read about Harvey Weinstein and his long history of sexual harassment, do so. And do not tell me that this predator did not start early in life.

I have run out of patience with people who say "Oh, it's overblown", or "not so bad" or "accusers are lying or exaggerating." Sexual harassment should not be condoned at any point in the education cycle, from Elementary School, Junior High, High School through College. Period.

For too long the victims of sexual assault have not been supported in their struggle for justice. The backlog of rape kits across the country that have not been tested is enormous. And it's way past time for those victims, primarily women, to be heard and for justice to be done.

When a complaint is filed, at any level, the accused should be banned from the school campus until the issue is resolved. Especially if it comes to light that multiple assaults have been committed. That person should not have access to additional victims. It should be clear to everyone, male and female alike, that sexual predation of any sort is not acceptable.

Finally, all school districts should provide a robust sex education program which covers all aspects of sexual behavior. And all students should be required to take it. If parents object, then it should be made clear that they, the parents, are legally responsible if their uneducated student commits a sexual assault. They should also be required to provide proof that their student has completed an equivalent sex education course.

Again . . . sexual harassment and assault is NOT acceptable any time or anywhere.

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