A University of Oregon psychology professor has filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education, alleging that the UO violated a federal campus security law when it did not notify the campus community or include in a police log an allegation of a sexual assault involving three basketball players in March.
Jennifer Freyd, a nationally known expert in sexual assault trauma, wrote in an email to federal officials this week that the university did not comply with the federal Jeanne Clery Act, which requires colleges and universities that participate in federal student financial aid programs to report information about alleged crimes on and around their campuses.
The law -- named in memory of a 19-year-old college freshman who was raped and murdered in 1986 by a fellow student in her dorm room at Lehigh University in Pennsylvania -- requires schools to report in a timely manner certain "Clery" crimes, which include violent crimes such as murder, manslaughter and rape. It also includes other sexual offenses, such as fondling and use of a date rape drug.
Schools also have to include in a daily crime log all alleged crimes on or near campus -- including robberies, assaults and burglaries -- that are reported to campus police.
Freyd questioned the UO Police Department's handling of a report alleging that three basketball players -- Damyean Dotson, Dominic Artis and Brandon Austin -- sexually assaulted an 18-year-old female UO student on March 9. The allegations were not made public until Eugene police released their investigation on May 5.
The UO police March crime log shows no report of a sexual assault at a home in the 1200 block of East 22nd Avenue, four blocks from the UO campus, as reported by The Register-Guard last week . It also shows no report of a sexual assault at an apartment complex, where the three players were alleged to have taken the victim and continued to abuse her. Police have not released where the apartment complex is located.
The victim's father reported the alleged crimes to UO police on March 9. A UO police officer tried calling the woman twice but could not reach her, according to the Eugene police report.
UO police spokesman Kelly McIver told Freyd in an email that the report did not generate a UO police case number because the alleged crimes occurred outside "our Clery boundaries" and because Eugene police did not request that the UO police take a courtesy report.
However, the department did not immediately know with certainty whether the incident occurred within or outside its Clery boundaries. UO Police Chief Carolyn McDermed said Thursday that the father indicated that he did not know where the alleged assault occurred but believed it was somewhere off campus.
Most off-campus areas are not within the Clery boundaries, which roughly form a sidewalk-street-and-sidewalk-wide perimeter around all campus properties, McDermed said.
The father also indicated that his daughter did not want to report the assault to law enforcement, McDermed said. The officer who took the father's call immediately referred the matter to the university's Student Affairs office, which provides outreach to victims of sexual violence and other types of crimes, McDermed said.
Student Affairs is often the best option for encouraging a victim to ultimately file a law enforcement report, McDermed said.
Initial uncertainty about the location of the alleged assault also played into not issuing a campuswide alert, the chief said. "One of the goals of a timely warning is to keep people safe, and we didn't have an address," she said.
A warning also could have interfered with the request by Eugene police that the university not take actions that could compromise the Eugene department's criminal investigation, she said.
McDermed said the UO department followed all standard procedures in responding to the father's call.
Freyd said that including the reported sexual assault in UO police's crime log would have been in the interest of student safety, the public's right to know and in line with the spirit of the Clery Act.
"In whose interest are you operating?" Freyd asked UO police in an email.
The federal Department of Education has confirmed that it is reviewing Freyd's complaint.
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