Why aren't alleged rapes in college handled directly by the police?

Here is news articleabout the debate over a bill that would effectively move most of the investigation of alleged rape prosecutions that occur between students on or near campus out of the purview of College Administrations and have investigation of these allegations moved directly into the realm of law enforcement.

Supposedly some of the impetus for this re College administration support for this bill is the large lawsuits some of the accused have filed who were the objects of false allegations and who were subjected to discipline by the colleges as a result of these allegations.

Why are colleges even involved with this? Rape is very serious crime it should be handled directly to the police. Universities have no business trying to sort out the he said - she said accusations and related physical evidence any more than they do murders or other serious assaults. There are professionals called Police, Detectives and States Attorneys that do this for a living, why not use them?

They should be. IMHO

They are. A campus rape is both a student disciplinary issue and a crime. Some schools have (allegedly) attempted to keep all such matters in-house, but that’s not what they are supposed to be doing.

And sometimes the victim does not want to go through the pain of a protracted criminal investigation and prosecution. The school discipline portion is much quicker but of limited scope.

Some universities have their own police department and handle the investigation in house while others just have campus security and rely on local departments to provide coverage. The level of cooperation between college institutions and local law enforcement…varies.

I would guess that they do so in an attempt to keep those numbers down and/or away from the public. If a campus has 10 rapes a year and 9 of them are dealt with “in house”, when you research that school, you’re going to have to look really hard to even find out about that 1 and you’ll probably never find out about the other 9.

I’m sure it also depends on the school. At my college we didn’t have ‘rent a cops’ or a security firm. We had actual sheriffs on campus with a sub-station on the property. People that got ticket on school property got real tickets, payable to the county. People that got arrested on campus were transported to the county jail. I bailed a few friends out over the years.

If you got raped on that campus and called the police, it would be dealt with by real police. The school administration wouldn’t have a chance to intercept it. They probably wouldn’t even know about it until a day or two later.

Having said all that, I’ve always wondered how these things get dealt with only in house. Is it because of what I said above? Is it because the campus/college has their own rent a cops and they’re told to turn over all the people that break the rules/laws to the school admins to be dealt with? Even in that case, the school admins would have to convince the victims not to contact the real police. You’d think that many (most?) of these girls would be smart enough to realize what’s going on and get to a hospital for a rape kit or get to a police station to file a real report ASAP.
Or maybe high school students need to be taught that.

It’s because the victims don’t always call police first, and possibly because campus authorities dissuade them from doing so. If you dial 911 a university can’t keep police or prosecutors from talking to you.

Some university police in fact have full police powers. Remember this situation–which did NOT happen on the University of Cincinnati campus:

No, but if the campus has its own police department, a call to 911 will yield a response by people beholden to the campus administrators, and the call response may not be quite as vigorous as it would be if the city/county police were in charge from the get-go.

Many rapes never get to court because the evidence isn’t strong enough to bring/maintain charges or the victim is unwilling to testify in public. However, if a victim brings charges to a college investigation board, they can consider things that courts can’t - patterns of past accusations (how is it that you always find yourself having sex with a drunk girl?), cell phone videos (often thrown out in court in states where all parties have to consent to recording), or legal but unethical power dynamics (TA pressuring students for sex). Also, colleges, who can at worst expel a student, can follow “preponderance of evidence” rules rather than “beyond reasonable doubt” rules. When well run, a college investigation board can provide victims with a safe, private place to confront their attackers and can punish or expel people who are clearly dangerous but probably can’t be convicted in court.

Or, y’know, the college investigation board can silence victims, expel victims who go to the police, and generally cover up scandal for the college.

There have been cases where colleges threaten to expel victims who talk to the police for “violating the confidentiality” of the internal investigation.

I am a rape investigator and I both agree with this and say that it is overly simplistic.

Let’s take the case of the Colombia Mattress performance artist. She did not go to the University until 8 months after the alleged incident. The police can not force a victim to cooperate with their own investigation. She chose at that point to not go to the police. She didn’t file a report until two years after she says she was raped. Of course at that point the investigation was dead in the water.

If a complainant comes forward to the staff of the university they should be encouraged to go to the police so an investigation can begin. The faculty should be rakes over the coals if they discourage anyone from going to the police. I don’t see any advantage to cutting off other avenues of redress or relief. The campus disciplinary procedures and other programs can offer help that a criminal investigation can’t. A victim should be given the choice.

The residential model gives university administrators an extraordinary amount of power. They are not just in charge of an educational institution; they are also effectively in the position of governing a small town — a town whose inhabitants cannot vote them out of office. It’s kind of surprising that we have this system in America.

When I worked security for a small university, I was amazed at how much the local police blew off and said “your problem”. Guy assaults fellow student, then goes to his room and steals the guy’s computer. Nothing happens. Later, same guy is found (by us) with a lot of drugs. Cops called, look at box of drugs, tell us it’s our problem.

Can’t a victim do both? Go to police and college administration simultaneously and have two ongoing investigations?

As I remember it, the campus police were mostly concerned with making sure drunk students didn’t riot on game nights. Anything along the lines of solving crimes was a distant afterthought, at best. They certainly weren’t of any use when somebody stole my book bag from a cubby hole at the bookstore. They couldn’t even be bothered to take a report from me. So yeah, I can totally believe that they’d try to dissuade rape victims from filing a report. Because then they might be expected to do something.

Bottom line, police will only arrest someone if they think they’ll actually get a conviction. College tribunals don’t give a crap about rules of evidence or “beyond reasonable doubt” or juries or any of that.

So it falls along ideological lines: If you think that a college tribunal has a better chance of punishing rapists if they aren’t held to the same standards of evidence as the criminal justice system, you’ll support them. If you think someone the police can’t convict on the evidence is therefore “not a rapist” and shouldn’t be punished at all, you’ll be against.

I lean towards the latter, but I sympathize with college rape victims who never seem to get justice. Rape is a difficult crime to convict someone of in many cases. I have no doubt many rapists walk free. But I’m not comfortable punishing people for crimes they have not been proven to have committed in a court of law by a jury of their peers.

Agree. These “tribunals” shouldn’t exist. If a student is actually convicted of a crime, by plea bargain or a jury, then the institution can take action in accordance with their policies. (and those policies should be reasonable and based on the actual danger of the alleged crime to the campus. A 5 year old conviction for shoplifting, for example, does not pose a danger to the other students, and so state universities should not be able to deny the student education for that reason)

If there isn’t enough evidence to convince a jury, the school shouldn’t have the power to punish the student severely. (I suppose you could make a case that forcing the student to leave student housing and only be present to attend class based on rape allegations would be reasonable, but expulsion without due process is unjust. Biased “committees” run by school administrators is not due process)

Let’s look at what the article the OP linked to, and some of the other articles it references, say.

The OP didn’t really seem to be talking about the bill, despite referring to it. But if we’re going to talk about it now, I’d say that I see no good reason to tie universities’ hands in that way. They should be able to discipline students for what they consider bad behavior whether or not law enforcement gets involved, and they should be able to suspend or expel students for behavior that is not a crime. We don’t currently recognize any fundamental “right” to a university education.

True, but in many cases the investigation methodology of the colleges seems to be to effectively assume the accused has to be kinda-sorta guilty of* something* upon accusation until they can prove themselves innocent, with no access to confront or directly question their accusers the accused will always (it seems) have the short end of the stick.