2 California Colleges Disclose Underreported Sex-Assault Cases

Occidental College and the University of Southern California have disclosed that they underreported the number of sex-assault complaints they had received in recent years, the Los Angeles Times reported.

The institutions are part of a group of colleges that students and activists have criticized for allegedly mishandling reports of sexual assaults. Occidental and USC are under investigation for alleged violations of Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, the federal law that bars sex discrimination at institutions receiving federal funds. Occidental also faces an investigation under the Clery Act, the federal law on campus-crime reporting.

The newspaper reported that USC officials had not reported 13 accounts of sexual assaults to federal officials in 2010 and 2011. Occidental acknowledged that it had failed to include two dozen reports during the same period.

An Occidental spokesman told the Times that the underreporting had been a mistake. He said the college had been basing its reports on too large a geographic area, and had made that area smaller to better comply with federal rules.

The problem occurred at USC because the administration had previously told students that crimes reported to its counseling center would be included in official statistics. But those reports were not disclosed, in what campus officials said was an effort to protect students’ confidentiality. The university will no longer list the counseling center as a source of crime statistics, and students who want their complaints included will have to inform designated campus-safety officials, according to the newspaper.

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