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Leaders react to NY Times report
Geneva, N.Y. --- The front page, cover story, above the fold report in Sunday's New York Times has prompted a number of reactions from leaders in Washington D.C. The report addressed the regret of a William Smith College freshman who reported that she was raped by members of the Hobart College football team two weeks after arriving on campus.
Read the New York Times Report here: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/13/us/how-one-college-handled-a-sexual-assault-complaint.html?_r=0
In a detailed statement released Sunday, the President of Hobart and William Smith Colleges denies the schools' mishandled the investigation, questions the intention and action of the Times reporter, and insisted the schools take such claims seriously. You can read his entire statement here: http://www.hws.edu/about/nytimes/
The report comes days after U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill (D, Missouri) released a survey report entitled "Sexual Violence on Campus." The topic was fresh on the minds of some in Washington D.C. when they picked up the NY Times on Sunday morning.
"To me it's despicable to hear this story again and the shame of it all is this isn't the only time I've heard this story having been involved in this issue over time," said Congressman Tom Reed (R, Corning) whose district includes Geneva. "It touches you personally hearing this story, being the father of a young daughter, an uncle of a niece who has dealt with this issue firsthand, I can tell you that Anna's story is just way too common for us to not have a moment in our society to say no more to this."
Anna is the woman who came forward to tell her story to the New York Times. She still attends William Smith College. The Times report revealed a seemingly flawed review of her rape claim by a three-person panel that failed to question the accused about why they offered three different accounts of events to authorities. The panel concluded its hearing in twelve days before the criminal investigation was complete and forensic evidence was available, according to the Times. The school is also accused of disclosing Anna's full name in letters to dozens of members of the campus community during the course of the inquiry.
Ontario County District Attorney Mike Tantillo told the Times that he "had virtually nothing to work with" and then he closed the criminal case. Tantillo has yet to respond to inquiries from 13WHAM News. Office staff said he is due back to work later this week.
Sen. McCaskill's survey of more than four hundred higher education institutions revealed that more than 40% of schools surveyed did not even conduct one sexual assault investigation in five years despite reporting such incidents.
The survey further showed that 33% of schools failed to provide basic training to the people handling these claims, 43% of the nation's largest public schools let students help adjudicate the cases, and 22% of schools let athletic departments oversee cases involving athletes.
You can read the entire "Sexual Violence on Campus" report here: http://www.mccaskill.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/SurveyReportwithAppendix.pdf
"To the officials that are involved, we need to learn from this and make sure that these types of events are fully investigated, they're not brushed aside and the perpetrators are held fully accountable," said Rep. Tom Reed. "We need to make sure we create an environment where we say no more and that we as a society will stand with these victims and make sure that they know we're going to be there and we're going to stand with them to get to the bottom of them."
U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand's office released this statement to 13WHAM News:
"Young women like Anna who are coming forward to tell their incredibly personal and painful stories are the definition of courage. I can not tell you how inspiring these women are to me personally and I feel a responsibility to act on their behalf. I have had the privilege of meeting several of these incredible young women who are reliving the worst moments of their lives to total strangers and the media so that somebody else will not have to go through what they did. This is their movement and I am here to help them anyway I can because we should not accept the price of a higher education including a one in five chance of being sexually assaulted. Part of the problem is a pure lack of understanding of the true nature of campus sexual assault. These crimes are not dates gone bad, or a good guy who had too much to drink. Another issue is 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. I am optimistic that the momentum created by these students and their determination will move the needle in Congress towards needed bipartisan reform I am writing with my colleagues that will create transparency and accountability by flipping the incentives that currently reward keeping sexual assault in the shadows."