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Sexual Assaults on Campus: SMU Investigated by Feds for Failure to Properly Deal with Campus Rape Crimes

Last month, the federal government made public a list of 55 colleges and universities that the federal authorities are investigating for illegally and improperly dealing with sexual assault and sex crime complaints by students to the school powers-that-be. Specifically, the Department of Education is looking into whether or not there have been civil rights (Title IX) violations here.

The federal government has the power to investigate how sex crime complaints have been dealt with on these campuses since Title IX makes it illegal to discriminate based upon sex when there is federal financial aid involved.

By the end of May 2014, the DOE had expanded the list to 60 campuses. There may be more additions in the future.

Here in Texas, two campuses have made the DOE Sex Crimes on Campus list so far:

Sex Crimes on Campus

This week, the Education Department released its latest research study into this problem, entitled, “Indicators of School Crime and Safety.” We’ve provided a copy of the report in the Michael Lowe Digital Library for your convenience:

The DOE Study: Sexual Assaults on College Campuses

According to this new report, the number of reports of sexual assault on U.S. college campuses has risen 52% in the past 10 years. What is not clear at the moment is whether or not there is a marked increase in the number of campus rapes and sexual assaults or if the report is reflecting a jump in the number of victims that are willing to come forward and report what has happened to them to the authorities.

The DOE study, coupled with earlier similar findings by NPR and the Boston Globe investigations, is scary for students and parents alike, since it finds that most campus sexual assaults involve the victim being assaulted not by a stranger, but instead by someone the victim knows. From a compilation of statistics by the Business Insider:

    • Sexual assault victims are usually freshmen or sophomore women
    • Almost all sexual perpetrators in campus sexual assault cases are men
    • Only 10% of the victims report that they have been sexually assaulted by a stranger
    • Half of all sexual assaults on campus happen on the weekend
    • Most of these sexual assaults (90%) happen with the victim incapacitated

Sexual Assault Crimes Under Texas Law: Dallas Sex Crimes

The Texas Penal Code now defines sexual assault in the same way that the federal government views sex crimes, i.e., that sexual assault now includes male-on-male assaults as well as any assault which involves the unwanted sexual penetration of the victim. Here in Dallas, there has been a public awareness campaign to educate people about the expanded definition of sex crimes by the State of Texas.

Accordingly, between the federal investigations into campus rape reporting and the public awareness campaigns regarding sexual assaults, we expect to see more investigations and arrests of young men in Texas for sex crimes, particularly sexual assaults on university and college campuses.

Sex crimes are serious felonies, and being convicted of either sexual assault or aggravated sexual assault is a life-altering event. Not only can the defendant who is convicted of these sex crimes face time behind bars, he will also have the stigma of a sex crime being on his criminal record in the future. This can impact jobs, education, military service, and more.

This is a serious situation for both the complainant and the accused. When young people like those attending a place like SMU or another state college or university come forward to report a sexual assault or to face an accusation of rape, respect must be given to the long-term effects of the situation upon everyone involved.

There are criminal defenses available to young men accused of campus sexual assaults; the fact that they have been accused or arrested is not the end of things for them even though the reality today is that merely being accused of rape can be a life-altering event.

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Here is how the Texas Penal Code defines Sexual Assault and Aggravated Sexual Assault:

§ 22.011. Sexual Assault

(a) A person commits an offense if the person:
(1) intentionally or knowingly:
(A) causes the penetration of the anus or female sexual organ of another person by any means, without that person’s consent;
(B) causes the penetration of the mouth of another person by the sexual organ of the actor, without that person’s consent; or
(C) causes the sexual organ of another person, without that person’s consent, to contact or penetrate the mouth, anus, or sexual organ of another person, including the actor;or
(2) intentionally or knowingly:
(A) causes the penetration of the anus or female sexual organ of a child by any means;
(B) causes the penetration of the mouth of a child by the sexual organ of the actor;
(C) causes the sexual organ of a child to contact or penetrate the mouth, anus, or sexual organ of another person, including the actor;
(D) causes the anus of a child to contact the mouth, anus, or sexual organ of another person, including the actor; or
(E) causes the mouth of a child to contact the anus or sexual organ of another person, including the actor.
(b) A sexual assault under Subsection (a)(1) is without the consent of the other person if:
(1) the actor compels the other person to submit or participate by the use of physical force or violence;
(2) the actor compels the other person to submit or participate by threatening to use force or violence against the other person, and the other person believes that the actor has the present ability to execute the threat;
(3) the other person has not consented and the actor knows the other person is unconscious or physically unable to resist;
(4) the actor knows that as a result of mental disease or defect the other person is at the time of the sexual assault incapable either of appraising the nature of the act or of resisting it;
(5) the other person has not consented and the actor knows the other person is unaware that the sexual assault is occurring;
(6) the actor has intentionally impaired the other person’s power to appraise or control the other person’s conduct by administering any substance without the other person’s knowledge;
(7) the actor compels the other person to submit or participate by threatening to use force or violence against any person, and the other person believes that the actor has the ability to execute the threat;
(8) the actor is a public servant who coerces the other person to submit or participate;
(9) the actor is a mental health services provider or a health care services provider who causes the other person, who is a patient or former patient of the actor, to submit or participate by exploiting the other person’s emotional dependency on the actor; or
(10) the actor is a clergyman who causes the other person to submit or participate by exploiting the other person’s emotional dependency on the clergyman in the clergyman’s professional character as spiritual adviser.
(c) In this section:
(1) “Child” means a person younger than 17 years of age who is not the spouse of the actor.
(2) “Spouse” means a person who is legally married to another.
(3) “Health care services provider” means:
(A) a physician licensed under the Medical Practice Act (Article 4495b, Vernon’s Texas Civil Statutes);
(B) a chiropractor licensed under Chapter 94, Acts of the 51st Legislature, Regular Session, 1949 (Article 4512b, Vernon’s Texas Civil Statutes);
(C) a licensed vocational nurse licensed under Chapter 118, Acts of the 52nd Legislature, 1951 (Article 4528c, Vernon’s Texas Civil Statutes);
(D) a physical therapist licensed under Chapter 836, Acts of the 62nd Legislature, Regular Session, 1971 (Article 4512e, Vernon’s Texas Civil Statutes);
(E) a physician assistant licensed under the Physician Assistant Licensing Act (Article 4495b–1, Vernon’s Texas Civil Statutes); or
(F) a registered nurse or an advanced practice nurse licensed under Chapter 7, Title 71, Revised Statutes.
(4) “Mental health services provider” means an individual, licensed or unlicensed, who performs or purports to perform mental health services, including a:
(A) licensed social worker as defined by Section 50.001, Human Resources Code;
(B) chemical dependency counselor as defined by Section 1, Chapter 635, Acts of the 72nd Legislature, Regular Session, 1991 (Article 4512o, Vernon’s Texas Civil Statutes);
(C) licensed professional counselor as defined by Section 2, Licensed Professional Counselor Act (Article 4512g, Vernon’s Texas Civil Statutes);
(D) licensed marriage and family therapist as defined by Section 2, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist Act (Article 4512c–1, Vernon’s Texas Civil Statutes);
(E) member of the clergy;
(F) psychologist offering psychological services as defined by Section 2, Psychologists’ Licensing Act (Article 4512c, Vernon’s Texas Civil Statutes); or
(G) special officer for mental health assignment certified under Section 415.037, Government Code.
(d) It is a defense to prosecution under Subsection (a)(2) that the conduct consisted of medical care for the child and did not include any contact between the anus or sexual organ of the child and the mouth, anus, or sexual organ of the actor or a third party.
(e) It is an affirmative defense to prosecution under Subsection (a)(2) that:
(1) the actor was not more than three years older than the victim and at the time of the offense:
(A) was not required under Chapter 62, Code of Criminal Procedure, as added by Chapter 668, Acts of the 75th Legislature, Regular Session, 1997, to register for life as a sex offender; or
(B) was not a person who under Chapter 62 had a reportable conviction or adjudication for an offense under this section; and
(2) the victim was a child of 14 years of age or older
. (f) An offense under this section is a felony of the second degree.

Section 22.021 defines Aggravated Sexual Assault:

§ 22.021. Aggravated Sexual Assault

(a) A person commits an offense:
(1) if the person:
(A) intentionally or knowingly:
(i) causes the penetration of the anus or female sexual organ of another person by any means, without that person’s consent;
(ii) causes the penetration of the mouth of another person by the sexual organ of the actor, without that person’s consent; or
(iii) causes the sexual organ of another person, without that person’s consent, to contact or penetrate the mouth, anus, or sexual organ of another person, including the actor;or
(B) intentionally or knowingly:
(i) causes the penetration of the anus or female sexual organ of a child by any means;
(ii) causes the penetration of the mouth of a child by the sexual organ of the actor;
(iii) causes the sexual organ of a child to contact or penetrate the mouth, anus, or sexual organ of another person, including the actor;
(iv) causes the anus of a child to contact the mouth, anus, or sexual organ of another person, including the actor; or
(v) causes the mouth of a child to contact the anus or sexual organ of another person, including the actor; and
(2) if:
(A) the person:
(i) causes serious bodily injury or attempts to cause the death of the victim or another person in the course of the same criminal episode;
(ii) by acts or words places the victim in fear that death, serious bodily injury, or kidnapping will be imminently inflicted on any person;
(iii) by acts or words occurring in the presence of the victim threatens to cause the death, serious bodily injury, or kidnapping of any person;
(iv) uses or exhibits a deadly weapon in the course of the same criminal episode;
(v) acts in concert with another who engages in conduct described by Subdivision (1) directed toward the same victim and occurring during the course of the same criminal episode; or
(vi) administers or provides flunitrazepam, otherwise known as rohypnol, or gamma hydroxybutyrate to the victim of the offense with the intent of facilitating the commission of the offense;
(B) the victim is younger than 14 years of age; or
(C) the victim is 65 years of age or older.
(b) In this section, “child” has the meaning assigned that term by Section 22.011(c).
(c) An aggravated sexual assault under this section is without the consent of the other person if the aggravated sexual assault occurs under the same circumstances listed in Section 22.011(b).
(d) The defense provided by Section 22.011(d) applies to this section.
(e) An offense under this section is a felony of the first degree.


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