USC, Occidental College underreported campus sexual assaults


When sexual assaults happen at a college campus, by law, the U.S. Department of Education must be notified under what's known as the Clery Act. Occidental College and USC are now disclosing they underreported those statistics in recent years.

"It makes it feel like they're trying to skew the numbers and they're not really addressing things that are probably, obviously, really important. It does get kind of upsetting because it kind of makes me feel like they're trying to brush things under the rug," said USC student Kiana Henry.

In a letter to the USC community, Public Safety Chief John Thomas explains there were 13 more victims who reported sex offenses to the counseling center and wanted to remain anonymous.

"Our reporting procedures for those years did not state that the counseling center was exempt from reporting to DPS. Therefore, all of the complaints should have been counted by DPS and made public as part of our Clery Act numbers," Thomas said.

The Clery Act requires colleges and universities to disclose statistics on major crimes that happen on or near campus and to notify students immediately.

Occidental College told Eyewitness News in a statement, "We made some mistakes. We found them during an internal audit of our Clery reporting and corrected the numbers in our latest report. The safety of our students is our primary concern, and we need to get this right."

Occidental College student Greta Jarvis says the college now emails students when a sexual assault happens on campus.

"I think it's great that they have more transparency and are just letting us all know right away," she said. "I think that was definitely something that was missing my freshman year. I never remember getting any emails like that."

The U.S. Department of Education reviews all possible cases of non-compliance. If USC and Occidental College are found to have violated the Clery Act, they face hefty fines.

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