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Occidental College May Have Underreported Sexual Assaults by More Than 50%

The school's administration is under fire.

Attorney Gloria Allred, left, with Occidental College professor Caroline Heldman and Occidental students and others at an April news conference on April 18, 2013. (Photo credit: Ajay Singh)
Attorney Gloria Allred, left, with Occidental College professor Caroline Heldman and Occidental students and others at an April news conference on April 18, 2013. (Photo credit: Ajay Singh)

By City News Service

The number of sexual assaults at Occidental College may have been under-reported by more than 50 percent by the school's deans, an investigative report in the Los Angeles Times said Friday.

The newspaper interviewed victims, reviewed police reports and looked at two confidential complaints filed against the school.

Federal law requires colleges and universities to publicly report sex assaults, which are compiled in Washington to give students and parents data about such crimes.

The Times reported that the private college in Eagle Rock disclosed 24 sex assaults over recent years, but failed to disclose another 27. Dozens more may have been ignored by the school's Dean of Students, The Times reported, because they were filed by students who requested to be kept anonymous.

Students were apparently actively discouraged by school administrators from filing rape charges with the school, The Times reported. One student told the newspaper that she reported being raped to an associate dean of students, who discouraged her from filing a report.

"Are you sure you really want to go through with this?" the dean reportedly asked the student.

Occidental officials refused to respond to that charge to The Times. Spokesman James Tranquada issued a statement that said the school wanted to best serve its students by letting two federal investigations take their course.

"In the meantime, Occidental continues to move ahead with its efforts to improve its policies and procedures to ensure the college is a national leader in dealing with sexual misconduct," said the Occidental statement, as reported in The Times.

The school's administration was initially publicly blasted last February, when a woman was reportedly raped at the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity house. The victim filed a police report, but was discouraged from filing a report with the school, and told by a dean not to discuss it with anyone, The Times reported.

The victim's complaint to the federal government said her rape report did not result in a public safety bulletin being issued by campus police, a step routinely taken when bicycle or computers thefts occur.

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