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Three Years of Campus Sexual-Assault Statistics Were Too High

October 1, 2009

The University of California, Davis, has determined that it significantly over-reported the number of forcible sex offenses that were committed on and around campus in 2005, 2006 and 2007, based on an internal review and an independent, outside review of the crime statistics it reports annually to the federal government under the Clery Act.

Specifically, in last year’s Clery Act statistics, UC Davis reported 48, 68 and 69 forcible sex offenses in 2005, 2006 and 2007, respectively. However, based on the two recent reviews, UC Davis has determined that the correct statistics for each of the years are less than half those numbers: 21 reported in 2005, 23 in 2006 and 33 in 2007.

The Clery Act requires publication of an annual report that contains specified campus crime statistics for the previous three calendar years. UC Davis’ newly revised statistics for 2006 and 2007 are included in the 2009 annual report released today, along with the statistics for 2008. The new report indicates that 27 forcible sex offenses were committed on and around its Davis and Sacramento campuses in 2008. The 2009 annual report is now available online at http://police.ucdavis.edu/clery.htm.

Based on the internal and external reviews, UC Davis has determined that the former director of its Campus Violence Prevention Program, Jennifer Beeman, was responsible for the inflated numbers of reported forcible sex offenses in 2005, 2006 and 2007.

(In other comments today, UC Davis officials said that Beeman has been investigated for improper use of grant funds. More information is available.)

The reviews were launched in April 2009, after another member of the violence prevention program’s staff raised concerns about the statistics to the UC Davis Police Department, which oversees the program.

“UC Davis has always been a safe college campus, and our Campus Violence Prevention Program has always been a tremendous asset to victims of violent crime. Today’s announcement about the Clery Act statistics doesn’t change any of that,” said UC Davis Police Chief Annette Spicuzza.

UC Davis officials could not say why Beeman over-reported the forcible sexual offense statistics. She retired from the university in June 2009, after 16 years as director of the Campus Violence Prevention Program. However, UC Davis has reported its findings regarding the over-reporting and revision of its Clery Act statistics to the federal Department of Education, which oversees implementation of the Clery Act for postsecondary education institutions. The campus will be cooperating with the Department of Education concerning any further review and action that the federal agency might choose to pursue.

In addition, UC Davis has reported its findings and revised Clery Act statistics to the federal Department of Justice and the University of California Office of the President, because UC Davis is the lead UC campus on a nearly $1 million Justice Department grant aimed at enhancing services for crime victims and coordinating a UC systemwide response to violence on all UC campuses.

“The problem with the reporting of these statistics was an isolated incident related solely to one individual,” said Robert Loessberg-Zahl, assistant executive vice chancellor. “We believe we’ve taken the necessary steps to ensure the long-term integrity of the Campus Violence Prevention Program and the long-term integrity of its Clery Act statistics.”

UC Davis’ Campus Violence Prevention Program provides victims of sexual assault, stalking and domestic violence the opportunity to report in confidence and be connected to health care and other support services without necessarily filing a police report.

UC Davis acknowledges that it erred by relying on a single person — the director of the Campus Violence Prevention Program — to both review the program’s caseload and to report its Clery statistics. UC Davis did not require that a second person review the program’s caseload because of the former director’s concern about compliance with privacy laws, which require that clients' identities be held in confidence.

To ensure the future integrity of the Campus Violence Prevention Program and its contributions to Clery statistics, a newly created panel of campus experts will review all crime statistics reported by the program. That panel will include a uniformed command officer from the UC Davis Police Department, a Clery Act specialist from the Office of Student Judicial Affairs and an attorney from the Office of Campus Counsel. The review will be conducted using case information from the program’s files that have been edited to remove clients' identities.

The Campus Violence Prevention Program is just one of several on- and off-campus offices that supply a prescribed set of annual crime statistics for the Clery Act. Other offices that provide statistics include the UC Davis, city of Davis and city of Sacramento police departments. The university then combines all these numbers into one set of statistics.

UC Davis first became aware of a possible problem with the program’s reporting of its caseload of forcible sex offenses in April 2009, when a staff member there began compiling Clery statistics for the 2008 calendar year. The staffer was able to verify a total of 17 forcible sex offenses — significantly fewer than the 57 cases that the program reported in 2007 and the 52 cases it reported in 2006.

When the staff member alerted UC Davis Police to those concerns, the department launched its own review of the program’s case files for 2005, 2006 and 2007. The internal review was able to validate only 10 forcible sex offenses reported exclusively to the program in 2005, only 4 in 2006 and only 16 in 2007. In addition, the police department review could not find in the program’s files the remaining cases reported by the then-director in 2005, 2006 and 2007 as being subject to Clery Act reporting requirements.

When UC Davis police reported their findings to campus administrators, the UC Davis Office of Campus Counsel commissioned an external review of the violence prevention program’s statistics. UC Davis tapped Dolores Stafford, the police chief of George Washington University and a nationally respected expert on the Clery Act, to conduct the review. Review of the 2006 and 2007 statistics was viewed as most critical, because statistics for those years, as well as 2008, are required to be included in the 2009 report.

Stafford’s review confirmed the findings of the UC Davis Police Department internal review: There was a significant over-reporting of sexual offenses by the director of the Campus Violence Prevention Program in 2005, 2006 and 2007.

For more information on the UC Davis Campus Violence Prevention Program, go to http://cvpp.ucdavis.edu.

The Clery Act

The Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act is a federal law that requires colleges and universities to give timely warnings of certain crimes that represent a threat to the safety of students or employees; provide statements of security policy; and keep annual statistics for certain crimes reported on and adjacent to their campuses, their off-campus properties, and the properties of registered student organizations.

Universities and colleges report the information to the U.S. Department of Education and must also make the policy statements and annual statistics available each fall to current and prospective students and employees. The legislation was first enacted in 1990 as the Crime Awareness and Campus Security Act; in 1998 it was renamed in memory of a freshman who was killed in her dorm room at Lehigh University in 1986.

About UC Davis

For 100 years, UC Davis has engaged in teaching, research and public service that matter to California and transform the world. Located close to the state capital, UC Davis has 31,000 students, an annual research budget that exceeds $500 million, a comprehensive health system and 13 specialized research centers. The university offers interdisciplinary graduate study and more than 100 undergraduate majors in four colleges — Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, Biological Sciences, Engineering, and Letters and Science — and advanced degrees from six professional schools — Education, Law, Management, Medicine, Veterinary Medicine and the Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing.

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