November alleged rape case under campus investigation

An alleged rape that occurred on campus late last year has been taken up by the Sam Houston State University judiciary system for further investigation, although the University Police Department’s investigation is on-going and no arrest has been made.

The campus-run court has begun the review of the University Police Department’s investigation and initiated an investigation of its own into the alleged sexual assault.

According to Police Chief Kevin Morris, the investigation is still in process and the department is awaiting the results of a rape kit taken after the incident. No charges have been filed at this time.

Once the rape kit analysis is returned to UPD, the information gathered throughout the investigative process will be sent to the Walker County District Attorney’s office. At that time the district attorney will determine whether or not to file charges.

Morris chose not to comment on the prospects of the case.

“It is not our place to pre-judge,” Morris said. “Our obligation is to the students and their safety.”

According to Dean of Students John Yarabeck, his office has received the case, and they are currently awaiting the final report from UPD.

Cases that go before the university court system are subject to the scrutiny of a campus investigation and must meet the “more likely than not” criteria set by the university. Meaning that after analysis, if the odds of the events occurrence weigh in at 51 percent or higher, then the alleged is found responsible for the incident.

In addition, actions have been taken to ensure the alleged victim’s safety.

“Our first concern is with the victim’s well- being,” Yarabeck said. “We have made sure to offer counseling and support and have made housing options available if needed.”

In accordance with Title IX, the university has also begun offering training to students, faculty and staff on the issues of sexual assault, such as prevention, safety, response and how to handle such events.

In cases of sexual assault, the investigations performed are some of the more complicated processes addressed by the university.

“We have to take into consideration all aspects of the relationship that may or may not have existed between the students prior to the incident,” Yarabeck said. “In addition, it is due to the fact that there is rarely a witness. The incident normally takes place between two people, by themselves, making the situation more complicated to analyze.”

If the court finds the alleged perpetrator to be responsible, punishment ranges widely. A responsible party may be subject to expulsion, suspension or counseling based upon the findings made.

Yarabeck also stressed the importance of communication of one’s intentions.

“Students need to be smart about these things,” Yarabeck said. “In addition, these situations would not occur nearly as often if students were more open about their intentions in a relationship. While many students don’t find that ‘cool’ and think they are too suave for that, it really does help to talk about any sexual intentions either party may have.”

President Barack Obama announced Wednesday the creation of a task force to put pressure on colleges and universities to prevent and police sexual assaults on campus.

According to a recent report by the White House Council on Women and Girls, one in five female college students has been assaulted, but only 12 percent report it.

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