Sexual assault report options detailed

Rachel Logan, News Editor

This semester, two sexual assaults have been reported at Pitt-Johnstown. Community members may wonder how to report incidents and what happens when they do.

Administrators encourage community members to report all sexual assaults, violence and harassment, as well as stalking. Cases may be reported on the campus website, at the campus police station, to a Title IX officer or to a resident assistant.

According to Title IX coordinator Amy Buxbaum, reports to campus police may remain anonymous, but anonymous reports limit options when it comes to responding and investigating the report.

Other options include filing a judicial complaint through the Student onduct Office. Such a report can be made to campus police. The referral may be resolved through an administrative meeting or a hearing, according to a campus police booklet titled, “For Safety’s Sake.”

A report can also be made to the police for a criminal complaint, which would bring about criminal charges if verified.

The Title IX coordinator is notified of all sexual assault cases on campus.

“First and foremost, we work to connect them with appropriate medical care and counselling support, including resources on and off campus,” said Buxbaum.

According to the campus police booklet, Title IX and Student Conduct officers may proceed with an investigation and resolution of any reported acts of sexual assault if they decide that investigation is necessary to ensure the well-being of community members.

If the investigation shows that the accused may pose a threat to the campus community, interim measures may be put in place.

Buxbaum said that such interim measures may include class schedule or housing changes. Other interim measures include permanent no-contact orders, counseling assessment and disciplinary probation.

If a criminal complaint is filed, the accused may also face criminal charges.

Police Chief Eric Zangaglia coordinated the posting of crime alerts when sexual assaults were reported. He and Student Affairs Vice President Shawn Brooks spoke to Student Government Association members at their meeting last Tuesday.

“Crime alerts have become very popular on university campuses because of the tragedy at Virginia Tech, where students were not alerted of the unfolding tragedy,” Brooks said.

“The government is increasingly involved in the lives of colleges.”

He said that campus police is issued guidance on how to respond, what to broadcast and when.

“The ground is constantly moving under our feet.”

Now, under new guidelines, the police are not to post information if they don’t believe the threat is ongoing or if it is under control.

“The difficulty is that, with minimal information, students are left to wonder, and they may believe a threat is ongoing when it is not,” Brooks said.