FOX47 NEWS - Addressing Sexual Assaults at the UW

Jeff Angileri
Mar 10, 2009, 11:07 PM

An alleged rape at the University of Wisconsin prompted campus officials to hold a forum Tuesday night to address sexual assaults.

This action stems from a series of articles in the Badger Herald newspaper chronicling an alleged rape of a student by fraternity members last October.

A Madison Police spokesperson confirmed an investigation is ongoing but could not provide any other details.

Without divulging specifics on the incident, UW officials talked about how they build a sexual assault case.

One of the things we look at is who did the victim tell first after it happened, because they could be a very important witness, said Ervin Cox, with Student Advocacy & Judicial Affairs.

Reports of sexual offenses on campus have dropped over the past few years -- from 14 in 2005 to 8 in 2007 -- according to the campus crime report. But experts say that doesn't mean fewer assaults are happening.

Most of the victims we talk to don't want to go through a court case -- they're often afraid the guy's going to get into trouble, said Kelly Anderson, with the Rape Crisis Center. We've got to remember 90 percent of sexual assaults are committed by someone the victim knows. They're not strangers jumping out of dark alleys. They are dates, they're friends of friends. They're people they thought they could trust.

Several members of Tuesday's panel admitted the university has no strategic plan when it comes to preventing sexual assault. That's part of the reason they held the meeting -- to generate ideas.

It isn't going to be a university administration response, said Kevin Helmkamp, office of the dean of students. It'll be a university community response that includes students.

That's when I look to you as people who sit on campus and live on campus and work on campus about what's resonant for you in helping us to move attitudes, said Carmen Hotvedt, with University Health Services.

Panel members said they hope more people will come forward and report thanks to the Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner program, or SANE.

It allows victims to be tested anonymously, and for free, when a person is assaulted. The evidence is saved in case the victim decides to prosecute their perpetrator.

The school did receive a $300,000 dollar grant from the U.S. Department of Justice. It will be used to develop a campus-wide response to sexual assault.

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