The trend leaves untold number of college women feeling betrayed and vulnerable, believing that their allegations are not taken seriously.The Tribune's findings also raise fresh questions about the way college administrators and law enforcement officials handle the allegations, even as the Obama administration calls attention to the issue with a series of initiatives and investigations aimed at better protecting students from sex crimes.The University of Illinois at Chicago noted in a 2010 report to the federal government that "it has been very difficult to get sexual assault cases" prosecuted by the Cook County state's attorney's office.UIC filed the report as part of a federal grant program to reduce dating violence and sexual assaults on college campuses.The Tribune compiled its information from crime data that campuses are required to report under federal law, and then checked with college administrators, prosecutors and others to obtain arrest and conviction information.Three of the six schools surveyed by the Tribune had zero convictions from their 63 reported cases.Only one of the convictions stemmed from a student-on-student attack, the most common type of assault.The rate of arrests and convictions is far below the average for rapes reported nationally.
The FBI, which annually compiles crime statistics, does not track arrest and conviction rates for sex offenses on college campuses.At Illinois State University, police handled 20 reported sex offenses, but the victims in slightly less than half of those cases declined to press charges, records show.Rather than endure police investigations, some students have pursued the matters with their universities' administrations.Gordon said UIC staff, police and county prosecutors will be undergoing additional advanced training this month on investigating and prosecuting "alcohol-facilitated" sexual assault cases."We're making progress," she said."I can't say we have gotten any more cases through felony review, but they are aware of the issues."Sally Daly, spokeswoman for Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez, said prosecutors do not treat campus sexual attacks differently than any other sexual assault case in deciding whether to file charges."Non-stranger sexual assault investigations are among the most challenging to effectively prosecute because there is often a relationship between the individuals, the use of alcohol might be involved, and there are typically no witnesses to the incident," Daly said."Even if UIC perceives that there are challenges in this process, our response has been to work with university officials to enhance communication and make them aware of the factors that must be considered when reviewing a case and what evidence prosecutors need, not just to charge a sexual assault case but also to ensure that the case can be prosecuted effectively," she said.
For instance, the University of Notre Dame has had 34 reported sex crimes during the last six school years with four arrests and no convictions, and Northwestern University had 21 reported cases with no arrests or convictions at its main campus in Evanston.