Crime logs misidentified some sexual assaults

Records show assaults were at times classified as ‘harassment’

Allegheny College’s daily crime log has misidentified some sexual assaults and omitted others entirely. The college is required by the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act to report all crimes committed on campus.

The Campus reported on a sexual assault that occurred in April 2014, which the survivor reported to the college’s Title IX Office. On the 2014 crime log, which was provided to The Campus by Dean of Students Kimberly Ferguson, that crime is listed as “Police assist: Harassment.” Gary Alizzeo, who serves as the Meadville City attorney, confirmed that the instance was an “alleged sexual assault” after a Right to Know request by The Campus.

The crime logs provided to The Campus were not copies of the original documents. Ferguson said the logs had to be recreated based on prior incident reports.

“Please be advised that the Office of Public Safety, under the leadership of a previous director, did not maintain complete crime logs for a period of time. As such, a portion of the data requested is now being recreated from incident reports that were properly collected and maintained during that time period,” Ferguson wrote in a Dec. 9, 2016, email to The Campus. “Dr. Ali Awadi, our current director of public safety, has addressed the issue and full crime logs are now being maintained. We are committed to providing accurate and complete information concerning student safety, which continues to be our paramount concern.”

College policy defines sexual assault as a form of  harassment.

“Sexual assault is also a form of sexual harassment, and it includes any type of sexual activity perpetrated against a person’s will,” The Compass Student Handbook reads in part.

Allegheny’s definition of sexual assault can be found in its “Discriminatory and Sexual Harassment Policy” section.

In addition to misidentifying some instances of sexual assault, the daily logs also fail to include other instances of sexual assault.

In 2014, for example, the daily crime log mentions explicitly one instance of sexual assault. The 2016 Annual Security and Fire Report notes that there were 12 forcible sex offenses in the 2014 calendar year. Daily logs from 2015 include only two explicit mentions of sexual assault, while the annual report states there were eight forcible sex offenses that year.

Ferguson said the current administrators who maintain the crime logs are not the same as those who have maintained the log in the past.

“I can’t tell what the previous administration did. None of us were here at that time. We can’t be accountable for how they coded it,” Ferguson said. “I came in February of 2016, and then Dr. Awadi came this summer. Sean [Kennedy] was here as of November [2015], he was an interim director. … I think anything that occurred, occurred prior to the tenure of these people.”

Some instances of sexual assault that occurred since the arrival of these administrators have not been reported in the daily crime log, however.

The Campus previously reported the story of Heather, a survivor of sexual assault who did not wish to be identified, on Feb. 17. Heather reported her sexual assault — which occurred on Oct. 26, 2016, — to the Meadville City Police Department in early November 2016, and later spoke with the college’s Title IX Office.

The crime log from 2016 reports a sexual assault that had been reported on Nov. 5, but it also notes that the crime had occurred earlier that day, rather than Oct. 26, and in a different location than the crime committed against Heather.

In February, Title IX Coordinator Gilly Ford told The Campus that the Title IX Office does not report sexual assaults to the Office of Public Safety, the office which maintains the college’s daily crime logs. Instead, Ford said, the office gives survivors the option to report an incident to public safety as well.

The U.S. Department of Education’s Handbook for Campus Safety and Security Reporting: 2016 Edition, available on the department’s website, states that, as Title IX coordinators are considered “campus security authorities,” they are required to report instances of sexual assault to public safety.

“The function of a campus security authority is to report to the official or office designated by the institution to collect crime report information, such as the campus police or security department, those allegations of Clery Act crimes that he or she receives,” the Handbook reads in part. “CSAs are responsible for reporting allegations of Clery Act crimes that are reported to them in their capacity as a CSA.”

Eight forcible sex offenses occurred in the 2015 calendar year, according to the college’s Clery Report.

The college’s Clery Report is available on the Office of Public Safety’s website under the header “Annual Fire & Safety Report,” and the daily crime logs are available under the header “Crime & Fire Log.”