How are sexual assault cases handled on Central Illinois college campuses?

Digital Originals

PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — Going to college is not always a new and uplifting experience; it can be ruined in seconds if somebody does not take no for an answer.

At the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Max Helm, a member of the Phi Gamma Delta, or FIJI fraternity, raped a 17-year-old woman and stripped her of her virginity on Aug. 24, her first day of college.

This event is not isolated to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and Illinois State University Police Chief, Aaron Woodruff, said data shows sexual assault happens all too frequently on college campuses.

“One in four undergraduate females, according to various research studies [that] have reinforced that, have been a victim of sexual assault or sexual violence,” said Woodruff.

With the data in mind, what are colleges in Central Illinois doing to handle sexual assault cases?

Woodruff said it is important to handle these cases with care and caution.

The first step Illinois State University takes is to take the student into a soft interview room, providing them with a therapy dog to calm survivors. They also get the victim medical care, if needed.

Their ultimate goal? To get the student the services they need, whether that be counseling or medical care.

For the suspect, there are two options. ISU police deal with the criminal process, while the Title IX office deals with the student conduct side of the process.

At Bradley University, Title IX is taken seriously. Leaders on campus suggest students who have been sexually assaulted to take these specific steps:

  • Get the person to a safe and secure environment.
  • Preserve all physical evidence.  (This means refraining from washing, using the toilet, or changing clothing.)  A person may or may not choose to press charges, but preserving physical evidence will give them the option to do so later on.
  • Seek medical treatment.
  • Report the incident.

Illinois Wesleyan University follows Title IX and does not condone sexual misconduct. To learn about what is considered a sexual assault on their campus, as well as how they handle sexual assault cases, click here.

According to the Center for Prevention of Abuse, 4% of all sexual assaults on a college campus are reported to law enforcement, meaning many go unspoken.

For those needing to speak with somebody about their experience, the Center for Prevention of Abuse is open 24/7 and has a crisis hotline: 1 (800) 559-SAFE (7233). Their services are free and confidential.

The National Sexual Assault Hotline is 1 (800) 656-4673.

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