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Better Reporting Seen Behind Sex Offense Numbers

Annual BU security report shows most crime data largely unchanged


While the number of reported crimes on the Boston University campus, including the Medical Campus, remained largely unchanged from 2015 to 2016, the number of reported rapes jumped from 11 in 2015 to 16 in 2016, an increase that the BU Police Department attributes in part to better reporting.

BUPD Sergeant Daniel Healy says police are continuing efforts to train BU staff who are required to report incidents of rape and sexual misconduct, even if the victim does not want police involvement.

“We know that sexual assault is a vastly underreported crime, and it generally goes unreported,” says Healy. “What gives us some hope is that people are more willing now to come forward and seek help and services.”

The numbers come from the 2017 BUPD Security and Fire Safety Report. The BUPD compiles the report, filed annually with the federal Department of Education as required by the federal Clery Act, from its records and those of various University offices, among them Judicial Affairs and Residence Life, as well as from records of area police departments, including those in Boston, Brookline, and Cambridge.

BU’s report for 2016, issued in October, includes all criminal activity on the Charles River Campus and the Medical Campus, such as the number of car thefts, assaults, and robberies, as well as all fires in residential housing.

On the Charles River Campus, reports of forcible fondling decreased to five from eight a year earlier. Reports of dating violence dipped from nine to eight this year, and accounts of stalking rose to 15 from 12 a year ago. There were no murders or manslaughters reported, and one arson was reported in 2016. Motor vehicle thefts went up to nine from five in 2015 and six a year earlier.

“Crime is very low for the number of people you have in this area,” says Healy, noting that the Charles River Campus is the size of a small city. “If you have nine robberies, that’s a pretty low number considering you have 40,000 people living in a major metropolitan area.”

The number of arrests for liquor law violations on the Charles River Campus continued a downward trend, falling to 41 from 45 last year and 55 in 2014; about 771 cases were referred for disciplinary action, down from 790 last year and 1,006 in 2014.

There were nine people referred for disciplinary action for drug violations, up from zero last year, but significantly lower than the 90 cases referred in 2014.

According to the report, 3 of the reported rapes occurred on the Medical Campus, as well as 37 aggravated assaults, an increase from 35 in 2015 and 3 in 2014.

There were 15 robberies, down from 18 a year earlier, and 7 instances of stalking, up from 4 the previous year.

The Medical Campus saw 53 arrests for drug violations, down from 71 in 2015.

There were also 11 fires across the campus, all apparently minor, most involving trash can or cooking fires. No one was seriously injured in any of those incidents.

Students needing help for stalking, domestic violence, or dating violence can contact the Sexual Assault Response & Prevention Center, 930 Commonwealth Ave., at 617-353-SARP (7277) or by email to sarp@bu.edu. All services are free and information is kept confidential. In urgent situations, students can also seek help at Student Health Services Behavioral Medicine, at 617-353-3569. University employees who experience stalking, domestic violence, and dating violence can contact the Faculty & Staff Assistance office, at 617-353-5381 or by email to sao@bu.edu. Students and staff can call the Boston University Police, at 617-353-2121, or Medical Campus Public Safety, at 617-414-4444.

Megan Woolhouse can be reached at megwj@bu.edu.


One Comment on Better Reporting Seen Behind Sex Offense Numbers

  • Just another BU parent on 11.01.2017 at 9:55 am

    Why is it that if the number of reported rapes goes down, it is never seems to be attributed to poorer reporting? Perhaps I just need some guidance on what to read.

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