Le Moyne Sees a Decrease in Reported Sexual Offenses

Le Moyne’s 2018 Security Crime Report reveals a decrease in reported sexual offenses.

This year’s report revealed a 50 percent decrease in sexual offenses from 2016 to 2017. In 2016, seven sexual offenses were reported that met the Clery Act requirements. In 2017, there was only three.

The Clery Act, created in 1990, is a federal law that requires colleges campuses to publish their crime statistics every October.

“There could be a variety of factors that caused the decrease,” Mark Petterelli, director of Security, said. “I think we’ve done a lot in prevention and education. So that certainly helps.”

Last fall, Le Moyne was awarded a $300,000 grant from the Office of Violence Against Women for reducing sexual assault and dating violence on campus. The grant has funded the hiring of Violence Prevention Educator, Rochelle Robinson, as well as bringing new things to campus like bystander and male violence prevention programs.

However, there is no way to tell what caused the decrease from just one year of data, said Deb Melzer, Title IV Coordinator, who deals with gender discrimination crimes like sexual assault.

“There is not enough data to make a comparison or guess at reasons for the reduction,” said Melzer. “We would need to look at several years of data and what kind of programs we were offering or not offering. Additionally, not all cases meet the Clery reporting requirements and therefore, that doesn’t mean the College did not have cases.”

There were no reported sexual assaults in 2012 and 2013.

“We discussed those years and we thought that some of those numbers initial increase (in 2014-2016) was because of this whole educational push and prevention and getting resources out,” Pettereli said, “We were not pleased with the increase but pleased that people felt more comfortable to come forward so they could get the help and resources that they need.”

“So 2017 is down from 2015 and 2016, for sure, but I’d look through 2018 and 2019 to see if that trend continues or if that was just an anomaly for some reason,” Petterelli said.

Sky Cannon, a senior at Le Moyne, believes that the decrease is an anomaly. “Seems unlikely that the numbers would just decrease out of nowhere, especially considering the current state of our society and the Brett Kavanaugh scandal,” said Cannon.

Sexual offenses are especially tricky when converted to statistics, according to an article in The Atlantic. “The Clery data is extremely limited because it only reflects incidents reported through formal procedures, and sexual assault is notoriously underreported; only 20 percent of student victims go to the police, according to the Justice Department,” the article said.

Melzer said that they want to change that at Le Moyne.

“It is important for us at Le Moyne that students feel comfortable reaching out for help, support, and resources,” Melzer said. “We treat any instance of sexual violence seriously and with respect. Acts of sexual violence do not just harm the individual, they harm the college community as a whole.”