Sexual Assault on College CampusesPublished: Mar 10, 2017 in Sex Crimes
There is no denying that sexual assault and sexual violence on college campuses is a problem. The issue is multifaceted for the alleged victims and offenders as well as the surrounding student bodies and faculties. Sexual violence leads to both short- and long-term physical and psychological consequences that affect a victim’s academic achievement, professional career, and personal relationships. Those who are falsely accused also experience significant effects, including academic failure, social stigma, and psychological trauma.
Right now, it appears as if universities and colleges are doing little to prevent assault, protect assault victims, punish those who are proven guilty, and address false accusations. That is why Texas State Rep. Terry Canales, D-Edinburg, and others have filed bills seeking changes to Texas laws and new policies regarding rape, stalking, and domestic violence at all state schools. If one or more of these bills pass, Texas criminal law in regard to sex crimes will change.
Bureau of Justice Statistics Confirms College Sexual Assault Issue
In addition to consistent scandals within the news, studies have found sexual assault is prevalent across U.S. campuses and institutions are not addressing it. The U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) found that by graduation, 25 percent of college women of all ages and levels experienced sexual violence. The average rate for sexual assault across the nine participating schools in the study was 176 per 1,000 undergraduate women. The average rate for sexual battery was 96 per 1,000 female undergraduate students. The average rate for rape was 54 per 1,000 undergraduate women.
The BJS found the rates at which women or members of the LGBTQ community reported sexual violence was very low. Of all rapes on campuses, only 4 percent were reported to law enforcement and 7 percent to school officials. This is attributed to many factors, including the victim’s low confidence in school leadership or law enforcement in responding to and addressing the assault. Many victims believe others will think it is partly their fault or think there will be retaliation for telling.
Sexual violence has many physical, emotional, financial, and academic consequences for victims. Ultimately, more than 30 percent of sexual assault victims suffer academically and more than 21 percent consider leaving college.
Multiple Texas Bills Seek to Improve How Colleges Handle Campus Sexual Assault
With the above facts in mind, it is clear that a statutory framework for preventing and addressing sexual violence on campuses is needed. That is why Rep. Canales and others have introduced bills this legislative session that would require significant changes in how state schools protect their student populations from sexual violence and how they handle allegations of sex crimes.
Rep. Canales authored HB 1096, also known as the Baylor Bill, in reference to the sexual assault scandal at the university. There are accusations that 31 Baylor football players committed more than 52 acts of rape within a 3 year period. The Baylor Bill would require higher education institutions to establish policy and prevention and outreach programs regarding campus sexual assault, stalking, and domestic violence. The policy would need to be in both personnel and student handbooks and on the website. Incoming students would be required to attend an orientation and learn the policy during their first term. Any college or university that failed to meet these requirements could lose state funding.
Senator Kirk Watson, Dist.-14, also sponsored numerous bills to strengthen sexual assault protections in Texas. SB 967 would alter the Texas penal code’s definition of consent to close commonly used loopholes. SB 970 would require a standard of affirmative consent for all higher education institutions. Instead of an absence of “no” in regard to consent, there must be an affirmative “yes.” Both of these bills are particularly important for victims who were unconscious, drugged, intoxicated, or incapacitated at the time of the assault. SB 966, SB 969, and SB 968 specifically address sexual assault on campus, including making it easier for students to report sexual assault and not be afraid of getting into trouble themselves.
If You Have Been Accused of a Crime, Contact a Houston Sex Crimes Lawyer
Texas universities need to improve protections for their student populations, sexual assault victims, and victims of false accusations. If you have been wrongly accused of a sex offense, contact attorney Ned Barnett as soon as possible. Barnett understands that when you are falsely accused of a sex crime, your academic and professional careers can suffer dramatically. You may be driven from campus based on unfair allegations. You could also be rejected by friends and family, leading to an emotionally traumatic situation.
You have the right to defend and protect yourself when you have been falsely accused of a sex crime. Contact Houston criminal defense lawyer Ned Barnett online or at (713) 222-6767 to schedule a free, initial consultation.