COLLEGE PARK (WJZ) — A sobering report just released on sexual assaults at Maryland colleges and universities reveals 92 different incidents on campuses statewide last year alone.
So what’s being done about it?
Investigator Mike Hellgren breaks it down.
There has been a steep rise over the past five years in the number of reported sexual assaults both at Hopkins and at campuses across Maryland The attorney general says that’s because victims are more likely to come forward.
Sexual assaults on Maryland’s college campuses are up a staggering 113 percent in just four years.
The attorney general unveiled the stunning number in a report, which focused on everything from the impact of alcohol to the comfort level of victims to report crimes.
“The schools worry that it’s going to look like there’s a bigger problem and we can take care of this privately, we don’t need to report it to everybody, we don’t need to get everybody concerned or scared about it. The fact of the matter is the law requires reporting,” Attorney General Doug Gansler said.
Some of the recommendations include:
- Increased bystander intervention initiatives;
- The education and training of university employees about trauma, victim behaviors and the language of re-victimization;
- The need for better engagement with local law enforcement; and,
- Creative efforts to raise public awareness about sexual assault and misconduct.
The top ten by number of campus sexual assaults are the University of Maryland College Park, McDaniel College, Towson, Salisbury, UMBC, Goucher, Montgomery College, Saint Mary’s, Frostburg State and Johns Hopkins. The full list of schools is on page 34 of the report.
Delegate Ariana Kelly is a survivor of sexual assault.
“We spend a lot of time talking about, ‘Oh, that girl is drunk, make sure she gets home safe.’ But what about, ‘That guy is acting inappropriately and taking advantage of a drunk girl?'” said Kelly.
University of Maryland College Park recently implemented new sexual misconduct guidelines, including a controversial one that only defines assault as penetration.
“You’ve got to take baby steps to fix large issues like this or else they’re not going to be fixed,” said Katherine Swanson, University of Maryland College Park, director of student groups for the student government association.
The attorney general stressed if others see an assault that’s about to happen, they need to stop it, pointing to Hannah Graham, the Virginia college student caught on surveillance cameras and seen by many witnesses possibly drunk and talking to a strange man before her abduction.
“Why was she walking alone in the first place? Why didn’t somebody recognize that she might be intoxicated?” Gansler said.
The goal is to reduce the number of sexual assaults to zero.
Johns Hopkins is one of three Maryland universities now under federal investigation for issues with reporting sexual assaults.
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