Penn State police see increase in reports of sexual offenses

mcarroll@centredaily.com September 25, 2013 

The number of sexual offenses reported to Penn State police more than doubled in 2012 and has spiked since 2010, due partly to the victims of convicted pedophile Jerry Sandusky coming forward, university officials said Wednesday.

Penn State police released its annual campus security report, which shows that sexual offenses have jumped from five in 2010 to 63 in 2012.

University officials said the increase is partly explained by allegations that date back to the 1970s but were only reported in the past two years against Sandusky, the former assistant football coach.

“There is a notable increase in forcible offenses over the past year, and much of this can be attributed to previous offenses that are just now being reported rather than in the year in which they occurred,” Gabe Gates, the university’s Clery Act compliance manager, said in a statement.

Gates said that 36 of the 63 offenses in the 2013 report and 11 of the 30 offenses in the 2012 report occurred between the 1970s and 2011.

University officials said that some of those offenses are tied to Sandusky, who was convicted in 2012 of molesting 10 young boys, sometimes on the Penn State campus. Since then, others have come forward with allegations.

Officials did not provide the exact number of previous-year reports that involve Sandusky and did not respond to messages requesting that information.

New sexual offenses, however, also have increased substantially, from five in 2010 to 19 in 2011 and 27 in 2012, according to the university’s figures.

The number of incidents that reportedly happened in dorms also increased from four in 2009 to 10 in 2011 and 16 in 2012.

Gates attributed the rise to new training Penn State has provided its employees in the aftermath of the Sandusky scandal.

“We believe the overall increase might be due in part to the additional training that we have provided over the past 14 months,” Gates said in a statement.

Gates said that the university has worked to spread sexual assault awareness to encourage victims to come forward and report the crime, which remains among the most under-reported, according to police.

“It is my hope that the training we are providing is having an impact,” Gates said. “We know people are more likely to come forward when they are aware of the crimes and the resources available to deal with those crimes.”

Forcible sexual offenses are any sexual act directed against another person forcibly or against someone’s will, and can range from fondling to rape.

“These types of crimes are always difficult to see as part of the data we compile,” university police Chief Tyrone Parham said in a statement. “On college campuses, the vast majority of sexual and physical assaults are between people who know each other, and the majority of assaults also involve alcohol in some way.”

The annual report satisfies requirements of the Clery Act, a federal law related to campus safety that requires colleges and universities to disclose information about crime on and near their respective campuses.

It shows that another violent crime, aggravated assault, increased in 2012, while drug arrests, alcohol violations and burglaries all decreased.

Parham could not be reached Wednesday for additional comment on the report.

Matt Carroll can be reached at 231-4631. Follow him on Twitter @Carrollreporter.

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