Discrepancy in Rape Statistics
Last week, I spoke with students at The George Washington University about the prosecution of campus sexual assault.
During this discussion, I learned that there is only one medical facility in Washington, DC that performs rape kits. As an alum, I don’t understand this policy. There is a hospital on campus. Why can’t students visit the GWU hospital to get a rape kit completed instead of traveling half-way across town to get it done?
Additionally, I learned that the rape statistics compiled by DC colleges and shared with the U.S. Department of Education vary from the rape statistics compiled by the Metropolitan Police Department. Why? That’s a question everyone should be asking and that question is the reason why I wrote the op-ed below. Rape is a criminal offense and only the police and the prosecutors can put the perpetrator in prison.
A DISCREPANCY IN RAPE STATISTICS
ANC Commissioner and George Washington University alumna Denise Krepp wanted to share this opinion with the public. While all the universities in the District of Columbia welcome a diverse student body from all areas of the country and the world, our children attend high school and college at these campuses as well. Awareness of the situation is the first step toward change for the better.
The DC flag. Photo by María Helena Carey, via Instagram.
The Metropolitan Police Department and the U.S. Department of Education compile statistics concerning rape and sexual assault in Washington, DC. MPD is responsible for investigating rape and sexual allegations so it makes sense for them to the collect the data. The Department of Education is far removed from the criminal justice system so their role in data collection is puzzling. What’s alarming is the fact that DOE and MPD statistics for the same crimes vary dramatically.
All colleges and universities are required to share annual rape statistics with the Department of Education pursuant to the Clery Act. In 2015, twenty-one students at the The George Washington University, my alma mater, notified the school that they were raped in a building on-campus. GWU then shared this information with DOE officials.
I started looking at the rape statistics in preparation for moderating a panel discussion last week at GWU. Representatives from the school’s Title IX office and MPD were invited to talk about their role in the criminal justice system, so I opened the discussion by sharing information about MPD’s crime statistics.
According to the MPD annual report, there were thirty-eight incidents of sexual abuse in the second district in 2015, the same district in which GWU, Georgetown University, and American University are located. Logically, I assumed that twenty-one of the thirty-eight rapes occurred at GWU.
Not so. Georgetown University reported nine rapes in 2015 to the Department of Education and American University reported an additional eighteen. The total number of reported rapes at the three universities is forty-eight, not the thirty-eight reported by MPD. (Click links to see the security reports for yourself.)
So why the discrepancy? Well, it appears from GWU’s annual report that the school did not report all of the rape allegations to MPD. Pursuant to their annual report, GWU only shared information about one case with MPD. Additional information about another case with shared with campus police. Information about the remaining nineteen was shared with non-police officials.
The Georgetown University annual report categorizes their data at “annual crime statistics as reported to campus security authorities.” What does that mean? Did the campus security authorities share the information with MPD? I don’t know.
I’m raising these questions because rape and sexual assault should not be treated at the same level as cheating on a final exam. They’re criminal offenses with life time consequences and the local colleges and universities should be sharing all rape and sexual allegations with MPD, not simply sending data to DOE which has no role in the criminal justice system.
Additionally, we should be asking why there is only one medical facility in the entire city that conducts rape kits (MedStar Washington Hospital Center). GWU students repeatedly asked the Title IX and MPD representatives last week to explain this short-sided policy. Why should an individual who is raped in a GWU building be forced to cross town in a cab to undergo an medical examination instead of walking two blocks to the school’s hospital? That’s the established policy, they were told.
The established policies need to be upended. DC isn’t a poor, back-water town. We’re the nation’s capital and there should be medical facilities that conduct rape kits in all eight wards. These medical facilities should include the hospitals that are located on local college and university campuses.
K. Denise Rucker Krepp, ANC Commissioner and GWU alumna ’95