Colleges Investigate Most Sex Assault Cases, Study Says

January 29, 2015

Colleges are investigating the majority of reported cases of sexual assault and are finding less than half of accused students responsible, according to a report released Tuesday by United Educators, a risk management and insurance firm. The study examined 305 reported cases of sexual assault at 104 institutions between 2011 and 2014.

About three-quarters of those cases were investigated, according to the report, and the accused students were found responsible in 45 percent of them. One-quarter of the cases resulted in the accused students not being found responsible, and in 7 percent of the cases, the accused students withdrew before the adjudication process was complete.

Of the 23 percent of cases that were never investigated by a college or university, 20 percent of the claims involved students who were unable to identify who had assaulted them. Another 23 percent involved victims who were "uncooperative" and chose not to pursue an investigation. More than 40 percent of the cases that were investigated ended in the accused student's expulsion, the report said, and 25 percent ended in suspensions of more than a year. Disciplinary probation and training accounted for about 9 percent of the sanctions.

"The method used by the perpetrator to carry out the assault may have been a factor in an institution’s choice of sanction," the authors wrote. "More than four-fifths (82 percent) of expulsion sanctions were for perpetrators who either took advantage of a victim’s incapacitation or used physical force. Disciplinary probation and lesser sanctions were most often imposed by institutions when the sexual assault involved failed consent."

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