AUSTIN, (AP) — The recent arrests of two Texas football players were a rare example of rapes being reported on campus leading to police action, according to a report published Sunday.
Kendall Sanders and Montrel Meander are two of just six people arrested in the last five years following allegations of sexual assault at the University of Texas and five other Central Texas colleges:
Austin Community College, St. Edward’s University, Southwestern University, Concordia University and Huston-Tillotson University.
In that time, police have responded to reports of just 19 sexual assaults on the six campuses, which total more than 100,000 students, the Austin American-Statesman and KVUE-TV reported on Sunday.
The report found that UT received reports of 23 sexual assaults during 2010 and 2012, but police in that time were given notice of just five alleged attacks.
Both campus and police officials cite the difficulty of getting victims to pursue prosecutions. They say victims often want to avoid the potential embarrassment of a prolonged investigation or only want the university to take punitive action against their attackers.
Rose Luna, communications program director for the group Texas Association Against Sexual Assault, said she considered the arrests of the two football players — who were accused of rape by a female student in a dorm room — to be a statement.
“To see this at UT was very encouraging, but, at the same time, I feel for all the victims that never have this happen,” Luna said.
Attorneys for both Sanders and Meander have denied the allegations against them. Brian Roark, Sanders’ attorney, told The Associated Press last month that it was “a shame that a mere allegation can affect a young man’s life to the extent this will.”
University of Texas assistant vice president Jennifer Hammat said victims who report assault to the university are allowed to decide whether the police should be called. Hammat said that policy allows victims to have control of the fate of their cases, even if it leads to fewer police reports.
“In many instances, they want them held accountable, but they don’t want to quote-unquote ‘ruin their lives’ and involve the police because they feel like it is an express lane to ruining someone’s life,” Hammat said.
Rudolph Rendon, police chief at St. Edward’s University in Austin, said in all four reports the school received during the last five years, the victims eventually decided not to pursue the case.
“They are traumatized at that time and feel like they have to report,” Rendon said. “Then, a few days later, they decide they don’t want to press charges and don’t want to go through this ordeal.”
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