TIME justice

Fraternity Plans to Sue Rolling Stone Over Campus-Rape Article

The university's chapter of Phi Kappa Psi plans to "pursue all available legal action against the magazine"

The University of Virginia chapter of Phi Kappa Psi said Monday it plans to sue Rolling Stone magazine, one day after the publication retracted a controversial story about a gang rape allegedly committed by some of the fraternity’s members.

“After 130 days of living under a cloud of suspicion as a result of reckless reporting by Rolling Stone Magazine, today the Virginia Alpha Chapter of Phi Kappa Psi announced plans to pursue all available legal action against the magazine,” it said.

The announcement follows the release of a lengthy investigation into Rolling Stone’s handling of the story by the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. That report, issued Sunday, found significant problems at every stage of the reporting, editing and fact-checking process and called the piece “a story of journalistic failure that was avoidable.”

Rolling Stone has apologized for the discredited story, although publisher Jann Wenner has reportedly chosen not to fire anyone as a result.

“The report by Columbia University’s School of Journalism demonstrates the reckless nature in which Rolling Stone researched and failed to verify facts in its article that erroneously accused Phi Kappa Psi of crimes its members did not commit,” Stephen Scipione, president of the Virginia Alpha Chapter of Phi Kappa Psi, said in the statement. “This type of reporting serves as a sad example of a serious decline of journalistic standards.”

The Nov. 19 publication of the Rolling Stone story upended the idyllic campus, turning it into the heated center of the national debate over campus sexual assault. The fraternity’s house was vandalized as outrage over the allegations in the story spread. But questions were soon raised about the credibility of the story. And in March, Charlottesville police said investigators were “not able to conclude to any substantive degree” that the incident had occurred.

“Clearly our fraternity and its members have been defamed, but more importantly we fear this entire episode may prompt some victims to remain in the shadows, fearful to confront their attackers,” Scipione said. “If Rolling Stone wants to play a real role in addressing this problem, it’s time to get serious.”

Students say the unraveling of Rolling Stone’s story has helped redeem the fraternity’s reputation on campus. “I think people have a great deal of remorse about how they spoke about Phi Psi in the fall,” says Abraham Axler, UVA’s student-council president.

The national Phi Kappa Psi fraternity has not yet decided whether it will join any legal action filed by the UVA chapter.

“We could do any array of things between us supporting them, partnering with them, or standing on the sidelines. We have not made those decisions on a national organization level yet. We plan on a release later today at some point ” said Chad Stegemiller, Phi Kappa Psi’s national assistant executive director.

Timothy Burke, a lawyer who represents fraternities and sororities, believes the detailed examination of Rolling Stone’s missteps in the Columbia report will help Phi Kappa Psi’s case.

“The potential for punitive damages are great in this case because Rolling Stone so badly blew every ethical journalistic obligation, according to what the Columbia school of journalism has to say,” says Burke, a partner at Fraternal Law Partners.

Any lawsuit would open the fraternity to potentially damaging information unearthed during the discovery process, such as evidence of underage drinking or drug use, but Burke says it’s unlikely to be enough to outweigh the benefits of bringing the case in the face of such shocking allegations.

“Any plaintiff’s council is going to advise his clients about the risks of litigation and what can happen in terms of discovery,” he says. “I would not be shocked to find out that underage students had a drink or two in the fraternity house. But that’s very different than saying that multiple members of that chapter engaged in gang rape.”

Read next: Rolling Stone Apologizes, Retracts Discredited Rape Story

Listen to the most important stories of the day.

TIME Sexual Assault

Rolling Stone Apologizes, Retracts Discredited Rape Story

(RICHMOND, Va.) — A Rolling Stone magazine article about an alleged rape on the University of Virginia campus was a “story of journalistic failure that was avoidable,” the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism said in a report published Sunday night.

“The failure encompassed reporting, editing, editorial supervision and fact-checking,” said the report, which was posted on the journalism school’s and magazine’s websites.

Rolling Stone Managing Editor Will Dana posted an apology on the publication’s website and said the magazine was officially retracting the story.

“We would like to apologize to our readers and to all of those who were damaged by our story and the ensuing fallout,” Dana wrote.

The article’s author, Sabrina Rubin Erdely, did not answer a telephone call from The Associated Press.

Rolling Stone had asked for the independent review after numerous news media outlets found flaws with the November 2014 story titled “A Rape on Campus.”

The article focused on a student identified only as “Jackie” who said she was raped by seven men at the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity house more than two years earlier.

It also described a hidden culture of sexual violence fueled by binge drinking at one of the nation’s most highly regarded public universities. Charlottesville Police Chief Timothy Longo said at a March 23 news conference that his investigators, who received no cooperation from Jackie, found no evidence to support either.

The article prompted protests on the Charlottesville campus, but the story quickly began to unravel. Other news organizations learned that Erdely had agreed not to contact the accused men. Three of Jackie’s friends denied the writer’s assertion that they discouraged the alleged victim from reporting the assault, and the man described as the person who led her to an upstairs room in the fraternity house to be raped could not be located.

By Dec. 5, Rolling Stone acknowledged that “there now appear to be discrepancies in Jackie’s account.”

Dana and Erdely have said they had been too accommodating of requests from “Jackie” that limited their ability to report the story because she said she was a rape victim and asked them not to contact others to corroborate, the report said.

However, Columbia’s report said, Rolling Stone also failed to investigate reporting leads even when “Jackie” had not specifically asked them not to.

“The editors made judgments about attribution, fact-checking and verification that greatly increased their risks of error but had little or nothing to do with protecting Jackie’s position,” it said.

The report said Rolling Stone‘s article may cast doubt on future accusations of rape. It also damaged the reputation of the Phi Kappa Psi chapter at U.Va. and depicted the university administration as neglectful.

It also concluded that while Rolling Stone‘s editorial staff has shrunk by 25 percent since 2008, the problem was not a lack of resources.

“The problem was methodology, compounded by an environment where several journalists with decades of collective experience failed to surface and debate problems about their reporting or to heed the questions they did receive from a fact-checking colleague,” it said.

The fraternity has called the article defamatory and said it was exploring its legal options.

“These false accusations have been extremely damaging to our entire organization, but we can only begin to imagine the setback this must have dealt to survivors of sexual assault,” said Stephen Scipione, president of the Virginia Alpha Chapter of Phi Kappa Psi, after the Charlottesville police suspended their investigation.

In his apology, Dana said that magazine officials are “committing ourselves to a series of recommendations about journalistic practices that are spelled out in the report.”

Despite its flaws, the article heightened scrutiny of campus sexual assaults amid a campaign by President Barack Obama. The University of Virginia had already been on the Department of Education’s list of 55 colleges under investigation for their handling of sex assault violations.

The article also prompted U.Va. President Teresa Sullivan to temporarily suspend Greek social events. Fraternities later agreed to ban kegs, hire security workers and keep at least three fraternity members sober at each event.

TIME Sexual Assault

The Hunting Ground Reignites the Debate Over Campus Rape

Filmmakers criticize campuses, fraternities and politicians for not keeping students safe

The debate over how to prevent and investigate sexual assault on campuses has been waged for over a year now with lawmakers like Senator Gillibrand calling sexual assault on campus an “epidemic,” and the White House threatening colleges and universities with sanctions for not following reporting and adjudication guidelines. More than 100 colleges are now under investigation for possibly violating federal laws that aim to keep students safe. But just as campuses have entered a new semester, and the protests seemed to be dying down, a provocative new documentary called The Hunting Ground is pouring gasoline on the debate.

The film, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January, hit theaters in New York and Los Angeles last weekend and will go on a tour of college campuses as it is rolled out across the country. It’s already causing controversy, with advocates saying it sheds a much-needed light on the way colleges cover up rape on campus and critics accusing the filmmakers of fear mongering and advocating for a radical adjudication procedure that ignores due process for the accused. Bringing the story to campuses where students are carrying mattresses to protest what they say is administrations’ indifference to victims of assault is sure to incite a whole new round of anxiety over the issue.

The Hunting Ground filmmakers spare no one in their crusade to stop assault on college campuses. In an interview with TIME, they critiqued the fraternity system, university officials who protect athletes accused of attacking women, politicians advocating for arming women on campus and even the White House for what they believe to be an insufficient campaign to keep students safe.

Back in 2012, the issue of campus safety not yet hit the covers of magazines like TIME, and it certainly wasn’t on the radar of filmmakers Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering who were then traveling across the country to screen their Emmy-award winning documentary on sexual assault in the U.S. military, Invisible War, a film that former Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta credits with inspiring him to take action on the issue which resulted in changes in the way that assaults are prosecuted in the military.

But as they toured campuses, they kept hearing the same message: “This happened to me, too. What’s happening in the military is happening at my school.” And it was clear to the filmmakers that, like in the military, schools were not doing enough to help these women. Only 41% of all universities initiated an investigation into sexual assault claims in the last five years, according to a Senate survey.

“We felt we’d received this call we had to respond to,” says Ziering. What result is a searing portrayal of a university system that the filmmakers say failed to create a safe environment for students and hid cases of sexual assault brought to their attention. By presenting dozens of first-hand accounts—they interviewed more than 100 survivors—Dick and Ziering hoped to personalize the conversation around campus rape in the same way that they did the debate about assault in the military.

A Premeditated Crime

They say their mission began with disproving the perception that campus rapes are just drunken hookups that one party regrets the next morning. “In so many of these situations, there was a predator at work. These survivor was picked out, plied with alcohol and set up to be assaulted,” says Dick. “And then the school’s response was often unsupportive of the survivor. First, victim blaming, and then the investigation that followed was either inadequate or didn’t happen at all.”

To make their case, Dick and Ziering tracked down someone rarely heard from in this debate: a convicted rapist. The man, whose face is blurred out, describes the ease with which he and fellow college students would deploy alcohol as a weapon to incapacitate girls and assault them.

“We felt it was important to include the mindset of a rapist who describes the ways in which these crimes are premeditated and highly calculated by serial predators,” says Ziering. Research indicates that only a small percentage of men commit these crimes, but that assailants attack an average of six victims.

The stories Dick and Ziering heard often shared the same setting—fraternities. Of the thousands of insurance claims that are made against fraternities each year, those for sexual assault are the second most common. The issue is so dire that some schools, like Dartmouth College and University of Virginia, have gone as far as to ban alcohol (or at least kegs and hard alcohol) at frats.

The filmmakers, while acknowledging that fraternities can be a productive part of campus life, accuse national chapters and colleges of condoning a culture often taken advantage of by predators. “The problem is that when you go on campus and you start asking where are the problem houses, where the sexual assaults happen, within a half an hour, you get that answer from a student,” says Kirby. Several interviewees in the film highlight one fraternity in particular— Sigma Alpha Epsilon, which they say is known on many campuses as “Sexual Assault Expected.”

“If the students know, the administration must have known for a long, long time,” adds Kirby. “Why aren’t they warning students? Or parents?” In the film, one school does send a letter to incoming freshmen warning them about a frat that has been sanctioned for assaults committed by its members. After backlash from the fraternity brothers’ parents, the school stops sending out warnings.

TIME reached out to Sigma Alpha Epsilon’s national chapter for a response to these claims. They wrote: “We believe anyone who commits sexual assault or other illegal acts should be held accountable and face punishment that is appropriate for those actions…Moreover, sexual assault is an issue related to all college students not specifically to fraternity men.” Brandon Weghorst, Director of Communications, also pointed out that SAE offers education and training on how to stop sexual assault.

MORE The Problem With Frats Isn’t Just Rape. It’s Power

The Athlete Bubble

The filmmakers also highlight similar issues with college athletics. The documentary follows the campus adjudication process for a handful of women, including Erica Kinsman, a former Florida State University student who claims that Jameis Winston, the likely no. 1 pick in the next NFL draft, raped her. Winston was never charged by the police and was cleared of violating the school’s code of conduct in December. Kinsman claims that FSU protected Winston while she had to endure the death threats from FSU football fans throughout the state. She has since sued the school and switched colleges.

A similar claim is made in the film by a campus investigator at Notre Dame, who says that administrators told him he could not reach out to athletes or coaches to locate a football player accused of sexually assaulting another student. The film notes that presidents and provosts at FSU, Notre Dame, and several other schools in the documentary declined to be interviewed for the film.

MORE Some Rules About Consent Are Unfair to Male Students

Botched Investigations

The filmmakers assert that some university administrators have been reluctant to bring the assault numbers to light because doing so could damage the reputation of the school. It’s an accusation echoed by some lawmakers: “The current lax oversight has the perverse effect of incentivizing colleges to encourage non-reporting, under-reporting and non-compliance with the already weak standards under current federal law,” Senator Gillibrand wrote in TIME.

Many schools fire back that giving the benefit of the doubt to the victim would undermine due process and lead to wrongful expulsions in cases where there’s little evidence. And while going to the police is an option, starting a criminal investigation, advocates argue, can be a lengthy process that can leave the victim to face-to-face with their accused attacker in dorms or classrooms for years, so schools need to get involved.

MORE Why Victims of Rape in College Don’t Report to the Police

The Safety Debate in DC

Recently, some conservatives have suggested that ending the ban on weapons on campus and allowing women to have guns on campus would make them safer. “The obvious solution to make an unsafe environment safer is to give students a fighting chance to fend off attackers. That means allowing them to be armed,” writes commentator S.E. Cupp for CNN.com.

But some victim advocates say that adding guns to the mix could be disastrous. “That suggestion shows a blatant ignorance of the issue,”says Ziering. “More often than not, victims are incapacitated in a way where a gun would make absolutely no difference. If anything, the guns would help the assailants and not the people being assaulted.”

But the Hunting Ground filmmakers say liberals aren’t sufficiently addressing the issue either. Last fall, the White House launched an “It’s On Us” campaign that encourages bystander intervention—students stepping into bad situations to help potential victims. It’s a clever idea: Research shows that a campaign against sexual assault isn’t going to stop rapists, but it can affect how bystanders address such situations. Nonetheless, Clark says the White House should be concentrating its efforts on earlier education.

“If you have to have a bystander intervene in a situation at a college party, we’ve already messed up,” she says. “We have to have this conversation much earlier, in elementary school or secondary school so that it never escalates to this point.”

Ziering adds that by concentrating on students’ responsibility, the campaign doesn’t deploy the proper pressure on administrators. “It’s not just on us. It’s on the administration,” she says.

After her experience, Ziering says if she could ask one thing of the White House, it would be to mandate independent investigators on campus and create a watchdog group that makes sure those investigators maintain their independence.

“We saw this with the military as well: we can’t have foxes guarding the henhouse,” she says. “Any time there is a conflict of interest in our criminal justice system, even on campuses, we won’t get the best outcome.”

Read next: The Debate: How Should College Campuses Handle Sexual Assault

Listen to the most important stories of the day.

TIME Sexual Assault

The Vanderbilt Rape Case Will Change the Way Victims Feel About the Courts

The decision sends the message that the criminal justice system does work for rape cases

On Wednesday, two former Vanderbilt University football stars were convicted by a Nashville jury of aggravated rape and aggravated sexual battery. Cory Batey and Brandon Vandenburg could serve decades behind bars for gang raping a fellow student in a dorm room in 2013. (Their argument that they were drunk and thus not in their right minds at the time of the attack was quickly dismissed by the court as a poor excuse for their violence.) The decision offers hope to victims of campus rape who, up until now, have shied away from reporting assaults to the police.

A recent study from the Justice Department found that 80% of campus rapes went unreported to the authorities (compared to a still-disheartening 67% in the general population). Victims of campus sexual assault have many reasons to choose a campus judiciary process over reporting the assault to the police. These victims are often in the position of living on the same campus as their assailant and thus forced to encounter them in the school cafeteria, in classrooms or in the library—places no student can avoid. Depending on the school’s policies, filing criminal charges against an assailant may not necessarily get him removed from campus, whereas a quicker, quieter campus judgment can. In the minds of many victims, the fastest way to feel safe is by going to the dean not the police.

Victims’ advocates have said that some students believe faculty members will be more sympathetic to assault claims than the police. “If you’re a person of color or you’re queer, the process of going to the police also can be one that is not necessarily competent or great to deal with,” Caitlin Lowell of the Coalition Against Sexual Violence at Columbia University told TIME last year.

Perhaps the most compelling reason students are deterred from reporting a rape to the police is that they think they will spend years going through the criminal judicial process reliving the agony of their attack only to be denied justice. A tiny fraction of accused rapists will ever serve a day in prison, according to the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN).

But the criminal justice system can provide guarantees that campuses cannot. If the news cycle from the past year has taught us anything, it’s that universities—from Columbia University to Florida State University—are not equipped to adjudicate these cases. Students complain that evidence is not systematically collected, hearings are often held without attorneys present and administration officials and those designated to preside over these cases have posed inappropriate questions. In theory, our courts are the best way to ensure that rapists are removed from our streets, and the Vanderbilt case—along with the recent arrest of a Stanford University swimmer who allegedly raped an unconscious woman on campus grounds— suggests that in practice that may finally be the case. (The Stanford student was barred from campus after his arrest, highlighting the importance of police involvement.)

MORE:My Rapist Is Still on Campus': Sex Assault in the Ivy League

The evidence in the Vanderbilt case was hard to dismiss. Though the victim (whose anonymity is being preserved by TIME and other news outlets) said she did not remember what happened the night of her attack after she lost consciousness, other players testified that they saw Vanbenburg slap her buttocks and say he could not have sex because he was high on cocaine. They also said that Batey raped the woman and then urinated on her. (Two other players who have pled not guilty will be tried later.)

University surveillance videos of players carrying an unconscious woman through a dormitory and graphic images of the assault taken from players’ phones proved that the victim was unconscious and confirmed which players participated in the gang rape. There was no DNA evidence, but one player testified that Vandenburg—who can be heard laughing and encouraging the assault in a video shown in court—passed out condoms to the other players.

Most victims are not able to bring so much evidence to the court. And many victims would understandably worry that they wouldn’t be able to finish their degree while enduring this arduous process. (The victim in this case impressively did and is now pursuing a Ph.D. in neuroscience at another university.)

Assault survivors should take comfort in this small victory. “I want to remind other victims of sexual violence: You are not alone. You are not to blame,” the victim said in a statement that was read by Assistant District Attorney Jan Norman in a press conference.

Bringing rapists to justice is just one piece of fighting the campus rape epidemic. In the Vanderbilt case, police said that five other athletes saw the victim in distress and did nothing to intervene or report her attackers. Even if our criminal justice system were perfect, it could not stop rape from happening. That’s why the White House is currently promoting a bystander intervention educational campaign on campuses. Ultimately it’s up to students to watch out for one another.

Read Next: Rose Byrne on Frat Culture and How Bystanders Can Stop Sexual Assault

TIME Sexual Assault

UVA Sorority Members Outraged After Being Asked To Avoid Frat Parties

The Phi Kappa Psi fraternity house at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, Va., Nov. 24, 2014. A Rolling Stone article last week alleged a gang rape at the house which has since suspended operations.
Steve Helber—AP The Phi Kappa Psi fraternity house at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, Va., on Nov. 24, 2014. A Rolling Stone article alleged a gang rape at the hous

“I don’t understand where or when I signed up for an organization that encouraged women to hide from men”

Members of sororities at the University of Virginia are outraged after their national chapters ordered them to avoid fraternity parties over the weekend.

An online petition to remove the mandate had over 2,000 signatures by Thursday morning. It says,

Instead of addressing rape and sexual assault at UVa, this mandate perpetuates the idea that women are inferior, sexual objects. It is degrading to Greek women, as it appears that the [National Panhellenic Conference] views us as defenseless and UVa’s new fraternal policies as invalid. Allowing the NPC to prevent us from celebrating (what used to be) a tight-knit community, sends the message that we are weak.

According to the Washington Post, the Student Council voted on an emergency bill Tuesday night urging sorority national chapter leaders to come to campus.

“I don’t understand where or when I signed up for an organization that encouraged women to hide from men,” Erin Dyer, a third-year UVA student told the Washington Post.

This new controversy comes as UVA tries to examine and reform its Greek culture in the wake of a Rolling Stone article about a rape on campus.

TIME Crime

Why UVA’s New Frat Rules May Not Make Much Difference

TIME.com stock photos Drinking Fraternity Frat Solo Cups
Elizabeth Renstrom for TIME

Methods of enforcement remain few and far between

The University of Virginia has proposed new rules for its fraternity system after the uproar that broke out both on and off campus following a controversial magazine story late last year that depicted a brutal gang rape at a frat house.

The new rules include some strong reforms like the elimination of kegs and hard-alcohol punch. But the nature of the relationship between the university and the fraternities, many of which are privately owned, may make the rules hard to enforce.

The individual Greek organizations have until Friday to agree to the new rules. If they don’t, they risk losing formal affiliation with the university—the one bit of leverage UVA administrators have over the fraternities. Under the new rules, fraternities must furnish a minimum of three “sober brother monitors,” at parties, who must wait at each alcohol distribution point as well as the stairs leading to the residential bedrooms. Beer must be served unopened in the original can, pre-mixed punches would be prohibited, wine must be poured out of a bottle by a sober brother, and hard alcohol can only be served at large parties by a hired bartender licensed by the Virginia Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control. A privately contracted security guard would also have to stand outside the front door and check names off a guest list.

MORE The Sexual Assault Crisis on American Campuses

The new rules come after UVA briefly suspended social activities at all fraternities on campus following the publication of an article in Rolling Stone that included a detailed account of a horrific rape that allegedly happened at a UVA fraternity. The story has since been found to have significant inconsistencies. After the Washington Post and other outlets identified problems with the story, Rolling Stone issued an apology and promised to investigate further. On Monday, UVA announced that it would reinstate the fraternity in the story, Phi Kappa Psi, after the Charlottesville Police failed to find any “substantive basis” to confirm the gruesome events described in the story.

Despite the inconsistencies in the article, UVA has decided to go ahead with fraternity reform. Though UVA President Teresa Sullivan was careful not to single out Greek organizations as the main culprits in the problem of sexual assault on campus during an interview with TIME last year, the rules do reflect a slightly softer version of the reforms she favored. “The days of the trash can full of punch have to be over,” she told TIME.

MORE UVA President: Eliminate All Booze Except Beer

Nonetheless, it appears that UVA may not be doing much to enforce the reforms—a reflection of the tricky nature of governing private organizations on campus. According to ABC News, UVA spokesman Anthony de Bruyn said the university would not provide staff to monitor the fraternities to because they are privately owned. “The University will work closely with Greek leadership to support them in seeking compliance with the new practices by their members,” de Bruyn told Time. “Should violations be brought to the University’s attention, as has been the case it the past, the Dean of Students Office will investigate, and any appropriate next steps would be based upon the details of each case.”

The lack of formal monitoring raises questions as to whether the reforms will have any teeth.

TIME Crime

UVA Fraternity at the Center of Controversial Rape Story Is Reinstated

UVA Phi Kappa Psi Fraternity Rolling Stone
Steve Helber—AP The Phi Kappa Psi house at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, Va., Nov. 24, 2014.

Phi Kappa Psi is welcomed back after Rolling Stone article comes under scrutiny

The University of Virginia said Monday that it would reinstate the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity featured in a widely read story last year that depicted a brutal gang rape at its house but later came under withering scrutiny for factual inconsistencies.

The University’s reinstatement of the fraternity came after the Charlottesville Police were unable to find any “substantive basis” to confirm the gruesome events detailed in the November Rolling Stone story, UVA said in a statement. The fraternity chapter had voluntarily suspended its charter shortly following the article.

MORE: Crisis on Fraternity Row

“We welcome Phi Kappa Psi, and we look forward to working with all fraternities and sororities in enhancing and promoting a safe environment for all,” UVA President Teresa Sullivan said in the statement.

After reporting from the Washington Post and other outlets raised questions about the story, the magazine apologized for “discrepancies” and said it’s trust in the accuser had been misplaced.

MORE: The Sexual Assault Crisis on American Campuses

TIME Crime

3 New Sexual Assault Allegations at Princeton

Amid growing scrutiny into how schools handle it

Three new sexual assaults were reported over the weekend to Princeton University police, at a time when colleges and universities are under increasing national scrutiny for how they handle sexual assault allegations.

Two of the incidents were reported on Friday and one on Saturday, the Times of Trenton reports. Two of the reported incidents—both involving unwanted fondling—allegedly occurred over the last month at eating clubs, co-ed social clubs at Princeton. The third report alleged sexual activity while incapacitated during the 2012-2013 school year.

Reporting of sexual assault is generally considered a good sign because it indicates that the culture at an institution makes victims feel safe to report. Raising reporting has been one of the signature goals of the federal-government’s months-long initiative to improve the handling of sexual assaults on campus.

MORE: The sexual assault crisis on America’s campuses

Princeton has made a number of changes to its handling of sexual assault cases over the last several months, in response to a federal inquiry. It’s unclear if those changes played any role in empowering students to come forward.

In September, under pressure from the federal government, Princeton became the last Ivy League school to lower its standard of proof for sexual assault violations. Following that decision, the school reached a settlement agreement with the federal government ending an investigation into Princeton’s handling of sexual assault. In December, two student officers were stripped of their titles at the Princeton eating club Tiger Inn, after they sent emails ridiculing women including one that contained a sexually explicit photograph.

 

TIME Crime

These Are the Women Forgotten in the Sexual Assault Crisis

Focus on campuses obscures young women not in school

There’s a new wrinkle to the ongoing debate about campus sexual assault: Non-students are actually more likely than students to be victimized, according to new federal data.

The finding, in a Justice Department report released Thursday, comes amid a fierce focus over the last several months on campus sexual assault and the federal government’s efforts to address it. This new data indicates that just as much—if not more—needs to be done to protect young college-aged women who aren’t in school. College-aged women, whether or not they are in school are more likely to be victims of rape and sexual assault than other age groups.

“I think the data shows that all the attention to college rape over the last year has been appropriate because it’s a problem there, but it has been too narrow a focus because we want to make sure we are not leaving out the huge number of people who don’t go to college,” says Scott Berkowitz, president of Rape Abuse & Incest National Network.

MORE: The sexual assault crisis on American campuses

For the period of 1995 to 2013, non-students aged 18-24 were 1.2 times more likely to be victims of sexual assault than their student counterparts, according to the report.

The report contained other interesting findings about the similarities and differences between these two groups of victims. Students and non-students were equally likely to know their attacker (80% in both cases), but non-students were more likely to report it to the police. Eighty percent of student rapes and sexual assaults went unreported to the police compared to 67% for non-students. The finding is particularly interesting because of the debate raging among advocates, public officials and administrators over how best to involve police in campus assault.

“Much of the reform attention has been on the college judicial process,” adds Berkowitz, “but this data really points out that we cannot focus on that at expense criminal justice system, because that would mean abandoning the great many victims who never attend college.”

TIME Crime

Christian University Apologizes to Sexual Assault Victims

BOB JONES UNIVERSITY
Patrick Collard—AP People cross over the walkway near the fountains on the campus of Bob Jones University in Greenville, S.C. on March 1, 2000.

"We failed to uphold and honor our own core values"

A prominent Christian university in South Carolina apologized to victims of sexual assault and abuse Wednesday ahead of a report released Thursday that documented the school’s failure to adequately respond to their needs.

“On behalf of Bob Jones University, I would like to sincerely and humbly apologize to those who felt they did not receive from us genuine love, compassion, understanding, and support after suffering sexual abuse or assault,” university president Steve Pettit said in an address to students Wednesday. “We did not live up to their expectations. We failed to uphold and honor our own core values.”

MORE: The sexual assault crisis on American campuses

The apology came in advance of a 300-page report published Thursday, drawn from interviews with some 40 victims of sexual abuse or sexual assault at Bob Jones university over four decades. The report paints a picture of an administration that failed to offer them appropriate counsel, and in some instances even made them feel at fault for their abuse.

The report was conducted by an independent organization, GRACE, a non-profit Christian group dedicated to helping the Christian community respond to abuse. “This comprehensive report contains painful disclosures by sexual abuse victims and strong language when describing the impact of the institutional responses to abuse disclosures,” GRACE said.

The report comes after months of scrutiny of colleges and universities across the country, as they try to grapple with mounting calls to reform the institutional response to campus sexual assault.

 

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