The Department of Public Safety (DPS) sent a letter to the Loyola Marymount University community late Wednesday regarding an instance of alleged sexual assault on campus. Two students were arrested by the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) and, according to DPS Chief Hampton Cantrell, the LAPD’s investigation is ongoing.
According to the letter sent, a female LMU undergraduate student called DPS to report that she was the victim of a sexual assault. She claimed it occurred at approximately 3 a.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 26 in an on-campus residence hall. She named two male LMU students as the perpetrators.
In response, LAPD was called to campus and, after conducting a number of interviews, they arrested the two male students.
The LAPD refused to comment on this story, instead referring the Loyolan to DPS. LAPD, DPS and Judicial Affairs all declined to release the names of the students arrested or the location of the alleged assault, other than that it occurred in a residence hall on campus.
“I don’t know in this particular instance if we are going to be able to release more information,” said Cantrell.
Following the arrest, DPS decided to send a letter to students regarding the case.
“This was not what we call a timely warning, it was just simply a notification for the campus for the purpose of letting the community know because LAPD was on campus for quite some time,” said Cantrell. “We just wanted to make sure accurate information was provided about what occurred to prevent the possibility of rumors or misinformation that could create some degree of distress on our campus.”
He added, “We believed that a timely warning was not necessary [and] that the campus was not in any danger.”
DPS Captain Cristina Martin told the Loyolan that since Jan. 1, 2012, six instances of sexual assault have been reported to DPS. However, of the six, two occurred off campus on public property. Two others were investigated by LAPD and determined to be unfounded. The last two included the incident last week and another instance that was just reported but allegedly occurred a year ago. In line with the Clery Act, then, only two sexual offenses have been recorded thus far for 2012. The recently-released Annual Security and Fire Safety Report lists two forcible sex offenses for 2011, three for 2010 and one for 2009.
“This is a problem … that is historically underreported for obvious reasons,” said Cantrell. “What we try to get across in our trainings is that the more these sorts of assaults are reported, the more we can capture or identify the people that do these things. In the training, there’s discussion around the fact that if a person does this, in all likelihood they’ve done it other times – that they are a serial … offender.”
Martin added, “Most often times in these cases, it’s an acquaintance. It’s not the stereotypical … stranger. … It’s making sure that you know who your acquaintances are – that you know them, [and] that you trust them.”
Martin highlighted the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN) as a good resource for tips on how to reduce the risk of sexual assault.
Cantrell added to this, saying, “When you go in the homes of people you don’t know, that may pose a risk. … Speaking hypothetically and not particularly on this case – [but regarding] party buses, we have had reports in the past that our young women students have been placed in compromising positions on those buses, especially when alcohol and drugs are involved.”
Cantrell commended the alleged victim on her courage to report the incident.
“In this instance, we do admire the victim in coming forward … and we encourage reporting of sexual assault,” said Cantrell. “We know how hard it is and how difficult it is to come forward with these things. Public Safety [and] the University [are] going to do [their] best to handle these things in a sensitive and fair way, that’s for sure.”
– Additional reporting by Kevin O’Keeffe, managing editor