In 2007, UC Davis students reported 69 cases of forcible sex assault – a number almost twice as much as all other UC campus reports combined.
However, two recent reviews of these numbers have found that the statistics are significantly lower, due to a number of cases that lacked documentation. The new 2007 statistic indicated that in fact 33 cases of forcible sex offenses occurred – not 69.
UC Davis officials announced this at 11 a.m. yesterday, along with the 2008 Clery report – a list of crimes on and off campus that the university is required to release every year. The new 2008 report found that the number of forcible sex offenses was 27 in and around both the Sacramento and Davis campuses.
Jennifer Beeman, former director of Campus Violence Prevention Program, was responsible for the inflation of reports, said Robert Loessberg-Zahl, assistant executive vice chancellor.
“The problem with the reporting of these statistics was an isolated incident related solely to one individual,” Loessberg-Zahl said at the press conference.
Also, UC officials believe that the incident was “not an accident,” but were not able to say why Beeman over-reported the numbers. Such information is irrelevant, said Mitchel Benson, assistant vice chancellor for university communications.
“We have not talked to [Beeman] because there’s no need to find out why they are inaccurate. We just need to find out whether they were inaccurate or not,” he said.
Beeman, who retired from her position in June, did not respond to request for comment by press time.
The high number could be accurate; however, with no documentation of nearly half the reported forcible sex offenses, determining whether or not the number is accurate will be the responsibility of a number of reviews.
UC Davis has reported the error to the U.S. Department of Education (DOE) and Department of Justice for review and any potential action. It is also running both an internal and external review of the Clery numbers.
An internal review is being conducted by the UC Davis Police Department. The external review will be conducted by Dolores Stafford, police chief of George Washington University and a nationally respected expert on the Clery Act.
The result of such a mistake could potentially cost the university $27,500 per violation, said Brett Sokolow, president of the National Center for Higher Education Risk Management..
“The DOE could still come in and say that the public was misled as to the true nature and extent of campus crime,” Sokolo said.
“That equates to a substantial misrepresentation,” he said. “Under the standard for fines that the DOE uses, they could fine [the university]. Now that doesn’t mean that Davis is going to be fined, it doesn’t even mean that Davis may be in violation, but it does mean under investigations that have happened to other colleges and universities that that potential exists.“
UC Davis admits that one mistake that could have contributed to the error was relying solely on one person – Beeman – to both review the cases and report the Clery statistics. Beeman was allegedly concerned that involving another party in the cases would violate the privacy of victims.
To correct any further overreporting, CVPP has established a new panel of campus experts to review cases and report Clery statistics. The panel will consist of 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.
Prior to the announcement that the Clery number was incorrect, CVPP officials assumed that the numbers of forced sex offenses were high due to their comprehensive sexual assault prevention programs, which encouraged victims to report and receive counseling, said Jeanne Wilson, director of Student Judicial Affairs, in February.
“The main reason [the Clery report numbers are so high] is that our confidential reporting system is tied directly to victim services,” Wilson said in February. “At other campuses they have a website where you can make an anonymous report, but it’s just a number for the Clery. They don’t tie into victim services.“
For further information, be sure to read Monday’s Aggie.
LAUREN STEUSSY can be reached at email@example.com. JEREMY OGUL contributed to this article.