State College police are investigating a fourth sexual assault report in days.
“This amount of sexual assaults in this short time period is pretty high from what we normally deal with, but with the under-reporting, I think that it’s more realistic of what we are actually experiencing in this community,” State College Lt. Keith Robb said on Tuesday.
Police say the fourth alleged assault took place Monday afternoon at an off-campus location. The incident allegedly involved a college-aged female and male, according to police.
Police will not release the name of the man, but have confirmed that the woman is a Penn State student. She was taken to Mount Nittany Medical Center where a sexual assault test kit was performed.
This assault occurred a day after two sexual assaults were reported to police.
The first assault was reported Friday, according to police, and took place several weeks ago.
Police say the incidents are not related and that each of the women knows the men in question.
Robb attributes the increase in reported sexual assaults to “Penn State’s efforts and the efforts of the media to get the word out.”
Last month, Penn State hosted its sixth annual “Walk a Mile in Her Shoes” march, highlighting sexual violence against women.
University spokesman Reidar Jensen called the reports “distressing news.”
“Our community has no tolerance for sexual assault and harassment, and Penn State is committed to national leadership when it comes to fighting sexual misconduct,” he said in a statement. “Unfortunately, sexual assaults do occur in our community and in society as a whole. We will continue to provide the most comprehensive and compassionate support possible for survivors of sexual assault; educate our community members about what constitutes sexual assault and sexual violence, and let them know how they can report these crimes; and hold accountable those who have committed a sexual assault.”
According to statistics provided by the Centre County Women’s Resource Center, the organization provided 53 sexual assault response calls to Mount Nittany Medical Center between 2014 and 2015. Sexual assault services for both sexual and relationship violence were provided to 104 Penn State students. The organization also provided 1,479 hours of crisis and support counseling.
Centre County District Attorney Stacy Parks Miller said help is available for those affected by sexual assault.
“I want to tell silent victims of sexual assault that what happened to them was not their fault and we would like to help them. We would respect their wishes and could provide services and assistance,” she said. “The Centre County Women’s Resource Center is also completely confidential. Please do not go this alone if you are a victim. Reach out, the help for you is here. You deserve support and assistance and should not be alone in this.”
Robb says sexual assaults are generally under-reported because of the stigma that comes along with them.
“Victims blame themselves because they believe they’ve put themselves in situations and they don’t want to talk about it. They just want to forget about it. There’s a lot of misconceptions about what goes on in a courtroom and if their past will be brought up and there’s just a lot of emotional trauma.”
With the Blue-White game this weekend, Robb encouraged people to be responsible.
“Drink responsibly, look out for each other if you go out, go out with friends, try not to leave anyone behind at a party. Just use good common sense and have a good time without getting in trouble,” he said.
“If anyone witnessed a sexual assault or can prevent a sexual assault, we encourage them to do so. Report what you see.” Robb said. “We’ve had incidents in (the) recent past where someone has stopped a sexual assault from occurring or was instrumental in providing us with information that can lead to an arrest.”