Reports of Forcible Sex Offenses on Campus Double Across US, Dec - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Reports of Forcible Sex Offenses on Campus Double Across US, Decrease on Delmarva

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SALISBURY, Md.- Every year under what is known as the "Clery Act,” colleges and universities in the United States must report all on-campus crimes. That includes sexual assaults. At the Universities of Maryland and Virginia, new data shows reports of "forcible sex offenses" more than doubled last year.

In 2013, the University of Maryland saw 19 reports, which was up from 9 the year before. At the University of Virginia, reports increased from 11 in 2012 to 27 last year.

"It's just disturbing," said sophomore Kevin Drury.

"I think it's a little scary," junior Jaclyn Disharoon said.

But what do those numbers really mean? Michele Hughes with the Life Crisis Center in Salisbury offers some insight.

"Probably it means that there are more reports,” she noted. “That women are reporting unwanted sexual contact, because of the publicity that we've received. It could also mean that college security folks and police forces are doing a better job of reporting."

The Clery Act defines forcible sex offenses as “any sexual act directed against another person forcibly and/or against that person's will; or not forcibly or against the person's will where the victim is incapable of giving consent.”

The upward trend in reporting was not followed at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore, which reported one forcible sex offense in 2013, compared with two in 2012.

"One incident is one too many on our campus, or anywhere, for that matter," remarked UMES police Chief Ernest Leatherbury. "We encourage our students to come forward if they have been a victim of sexual assault."

At Salisbury University, there were three reports of forcible sex offenses in 2013, down from six the previous year.

"Our primary goal is to educate and prevent sexual misconduct before it happens," said SU's Vice President of Student Affairs, Dr. Dane Foust. "This past year, for example, campus offices hosted more than 30 educational programs focused on sexual assault and relationship violence prevention and resources."

While the lower numbers at UMES and SU might seem like good news, Hughes says it's not necessarily cause for celebration.

"The research says that most sexual assaults go unreported,” explained Hughes. “And that's in the general population, and there certainly are huge numbers of sexual assaults that go unreported on college campuses."

The numbers remained unchanged at the University of Delaware, with three incidents reported in both 2012 and 2013.

Delaware State University had three reports of forcible sex offenses in 2012, which increased to six reports in 2013.

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