Promoting Effective Criminal Investigations of Campus Sex Crimes

Publication Date: 2012
Abstract: This report summarizes the discussions of a forum held by the U.S. Justice Department's Office of Victims of Crime (OVC) to consider ways to improve criminal investigations of campus sex crimes. The forum was attended by representatives from college law enforcement, student affairs, campus sexual assault victim services, government agencies, national organizations that focus on campus safety or address public policy issues for higher education more broadly, and organizations or individuals that provide legal counsel or risk-management tools for colleges and universities. The factors that prompted the forum were high rates of sexual assault coupled with low rates of reporting to law enforcement, the unique role of college campus public safety agencies in sex-crimes investigations, and the fact that most campus sexual assaults are committed by an acquaintance of the victim rather than a stranger. In addition, local law enforcement agencies may be required to coordinate their investigation of a campus sex crime with the school's investigation. Forum participants focused on four issues. One topic involved the challenges, issues, and promising practice related to the investigation of campus sex crimes. A second forum topic was the identification of resources that exemplify promising practices in campus sex-crime investigations or that may be useful in their implementation. A third topic was the identification of key partners in investigations of campus sex crimes and potential coordination challenges. A fourth topic considered in the forum involved suggestions to guide criminal investigations of campus sex crimes. This report summarizes the key outcomes and suggestions from the forum discussions.