On Monday, ETSU reported that the most recent reported sexual assault — a fondling in an academic building classroom on Sept. 14 — was unfounded.
While reports of robberies on campus turning out to be a hoax have not been uncommon in the recent years, Joe Smith, executive assistant to the president for university relations, said sexual assault reports being unfounded is uncommon on ETSU’s campus.
The term “unfounded” means either one of two things:
- It’s a false report – the police believe the report was made up or the accuser admitted to filing a false report.
- The police found that the report lacked key information to classify the act as sexual assault; therefore, it is baseless.
As for the Sept. 14, case, the safety notice reads: “The complainant has stated the sexual assault did not occur.”
The Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network reports that only 2 percent of reported incidences of sexual assault are false reports. RAINN uses a sample size of 1,000 in their statistic reports, which means about 20 out of 1,000 reported sexual assaults were found to be false.
However, RAINN also reports that out of 1,000 reported sexual assaults, only six perpetrators will be incarcerated.
The way campus handles sexual assault depends on the victim.
“The student has the option on whether or not they want the university to investigate the report,” Smith said. “Either way, we encourage students to report the assault, even if they don’t want to press charges. If a student chooses not to have the university investigate, we keep the case open.”
Smith also said that with past sexual assault reports, a good majority are not investigated per the victim’s request.
“We have had some that do get investigated, though, and the university has a process for how they handle those cases,” he added.
According to the information on the ETSU Public Safety website, there is a list of “accuser’s rights.” Among those rights are the right to testify and not testify during a disciplinary hearing, to submit a written statement and to have an adviser attend the disciplinary meeting.
Currently, the Aug. 28 and Aug. 29 sexual assault reports are still under investigation.
Sexual assaults should be reported to Public Safety at 439-4480, or visit etsu.edu/violencefree/.