Rapes and sexual assaults are the most underreported crime in the world. There’s no denying that is has been an issue everywhere for a long time.
Sexual assaults can happen anywhere, even on college campuses. In light of the rape lawsuit case in 2015 and the more recent case that made headlines involving former student Kasen Kunishima-Takushi, students at Paci c University have raised many questions and concerns regarding the legal process for a sexual assault.
Paci c and the Forest Grove Police Department (FGPD) are prime examples of how the processes differ.
If a sexual assault has taken place and the victim reports it to the FGPD, they will involve detectives.
“The of cer will take an initial report that is basic and just cover the info needed to ascertain the suspect,” Forest Grove Police Captain Mike Herb said. “It will then be forwarded to the detective unit.”
Herb acknowledges that one of the biggest challenges the police departments faces is timing. If a sexual assault has immediately occurred, the next 72 hours are crucial for evidence collection. After this time period, the evidence dissipates and the situation becomes tainted.
“The witnesses start talking to other people and the alleged suspect may nd out and may come up with a really good story, or come up with a fake alibi, or they leave and then we are not able to even interview them,” Herb said. “The police are the entity that investigate these crimes, that is how you get justice. Yet, I am surprised again and again by the individuals that don’t think of calling the police.”
He also said that most students do not know they can remain anonymous. “They can go into the police department and even have a rape kit done at the hospital and have the
investigative evidence held inde nitely with their name as Jane Doe,” Herb said. “At least that evidence is preserved if that person decides later [that they] need to go report this and [they] need [their] name known and have this investigated and hold the person responsible. Well, now at least we have the evidence. Unfortunately, a lot of students don’t nd out about this until it is too late.”
In relation to the Kunishima- Takushi incident, the FGPD received the report from the victim on Nov. 22 2015, three weeks after the alleged attack, when the suspect was already back in Hawaii.
“The investigative challenge increased because the alleged suspect was already gone,” Herb said. “We presented to the district attorney’s of ce and they decided to have a grand jury look at the facts. Once the indictment was handed down, we were able to get a warrant serviceable out of state for his arrest, so Honolulu was contacted with the information and then they picked him up and arrested him.”
The arrest happened on Oct. 4, 2016; almost one year after the rape, sodomy and assault was initially reported to the FGPD.
Under Title IX and other mandates like the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), Campus Save Act (CSA) and the Clery Act, colleges are shown the proper ways to follow up and respond to crimes like a sexual assault.
But a university’s process is quite different from a police department’s process.
Pacific has a team of investigators, which consists of specially trained faculty, staff and various people within the university who have elected to go through training, to look into the incident.
Every other employee like Resident Assistants, faculty and staff, are Responsible Employees and are required to report incidents they hear that relates to Title IX like stalking, relationship violence and sexual identity, to Mark Ankeny, the Title IX coordinator.
The Dean of Students and the Director of Conduct are also people who would be involved.
But students are not required to report. There are con dential resources on campus like Campus Wellness Coordinator Kathleen Converse, Reverend Chuck Currie and the Counseling Center.
“It’s not like the whole world knows, it’s a really small group and the purpose is to get supportive resources and make sure nothing is swept under the rug, but that can feel alarming,” Converse said. “We need to have more awareness about that protocol so people know more what their options are and what happens when you report and know your resources.”
But if a student does decide to report to the university and not the police department, there is a 60-day timeline that will ensue.
This time period involves both parties meeting separately with the Director of Conduct, sharing their story, the university gathering information from other witnesses, the trial hearing and the appeal process.
“We really try to keep it on what the survivor wants and have them drive the decision on what they want to see happen and how comfortable they feel moving forward,” Converse said. “I think it’s a really good amount of time and I think anything more than that you drag out.”
The maximum punishment provided from the university is expulsion if found guilty for a sexual assault, whereas the FGPD can provide jail time and various protective orders.
“What’s really important from my seat is that when someone has experienced a sexual assault they have their power taken from them and their ability to choose, I think it’s really important in this process to give them that power back however they want,” Converse said. “I don’t advise or push at all one direction or another, I just try to give as complete explanations as what all those processes look like, the pros and cons, the possible outcomes, so we can sort through all of that. I don’t have a ‘you should do this or that angle.’”
Currently, there is a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between Paci c and the FGPD that is being reviewed to enhance the verbiage.
Right now, the university is not required to report to the police if there is a rape or sexual assault on campus.
The police are only noti ed if the student makes a report through them, or if there is a pattern and threat to the campus community. For instance, there were eight reported rapes on campus last year, but only three rapes were reported to the police.
“I think there are situations outside of the current verbiage that, I think it just makes sense, it is prudent for us to be noti ed,” Herb said. “If we look at a circumstance where we identify what could be the beginning of a pattern, but somebody at the university does not feel it is a pattern, so they didn’t report it, it would be a concern for both of us. We are looking at cleaning up the language of the MOU.”
But both the university and the FGPD agree that the rst and foremost priority is the safety of the students.
And now there is a sexual assault handout created by the police that has been handed out during orientation, at several events and is handed out by the university to people who have experienced a sexual assault so they know the legal process.
“Right now, people are not coming forward and I’m getting the tiniest fraction of what’s happening and the only way to ‘A,’ get people’s support and ‘B,’ stop this from happening, is to actually know what’s going on and I really do think our process is supportive,” Converse said. “It’s safe to come tell your story, especially coming to talk to me. It’s not like you’re making a report, it’s just a safe place to explore all the options for reporting as well as health care concerns or [if you] just want to process your experience; it’s all of those kind of accommodations.”