10/11 NOW investigates why records show so many alleged rapes on campus remain open years after being reported

10/11 NOW at 5
Published: Aug. 26, 2021 at 6:55 PM CDT|Updated: Aug. 26, 2021 at 6:56 PM CDT
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - For two nights in a row, chants of “no means no” have rang out on the University of Nebraska - Lincoln campus. The chants shouted by hundreds gathered outside the Phi Gamma Delta fraternity house, often known as “FIJI.”

The protests came after a rape was reported at the fraternity house on Monday, the first day of the semester.

10/11 NOW looked into the history of these kinds of cases at UNL and learned many alleged rape cases, dating back years, still remain under investigation.

According to the UNLPD public crime log, 66 cases of rape, attempted rape, sodomy and sexual assault with an object have been reported in the last five years. The crime log shows just 6 of those 66 cases have been closed. Thirty-two remain open and 28 are listed as “closed - inactive.”

10/11 NOW spoke on the phone with Michael Maas, the UNLPD compliance and accreditation manager, who wasn’t able to speak to specific cases or to why certain ones are listed as open. He did, however, define what the different dispositions mean. He said a case that’s listed as open is still under active investigation. A case listed as closed has been fully investigated and reached a conclusion whether that’s prosecution or not. A case listed as closed-inactive has been investigated as far is could go but all leads have been exhausted and it’s essentially a “cold case.”

10/11 NOW was in contact with the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Communications team throughout Thursday regarding the open cases. The office said they were working through their own records to compare them to the public crime log to confirm the data and said they would be unable to provide an explanation for the open cases Thursday.

The University of Nebraska website does list policies and procedures for when a sexual assault is reported on campus. Such report, triggers a two-part investigation. One by UNLPD, which could result in criminal charges and one by the University’s Title IX office which could result in university sanctions like expulsion. 10/11 NOW does have a list of questions in to the Title IX office regarding sexual assaults on campus and expects to get answers back soon. Both offices provide the victim with an advocate and only move forward with charges or sanctions with the support of the victim.

Pat Condon, the Lancaster County Attorney’s Office said his office only gets involved if an arrest is made to determine if charges will be filed. Condon did tell 10/11 NOW he has reviewed the reports from the alleged rape at the FIJI house and confirmed no charges have been filed at this time. He also said charges typically aren’t filed unless the victim is on board with the court process.

LPD also confirmed they are not involved in the FIJI investigation, adding they don’t assist with outside agencies unless requested. UNLPD has not requested their help.

10/11 NOW also looked at the locations where the sexual assaults have been reported on campus.

Of the 66 reports in the last five years, 8 have allegedly occurred at fraternity houses. Thirty-three others have been reported at other on-campus residence halls. The halls with the highest number of reports were Abel Hall with eight and University Suites with six.

UNL’s Chancellor Ronnie Green released a video statement on the alleged rape at the Phi Gamma Delta “FIJI” house Thursday evening.

Here’s the statement in full:

Sexual assault is heinous and should never happen. I wish we lived in a world where it didn’t.

We have taken a number of steps on our campus to prevent sexual assault, to help ensure victims feel comfortable coming forward, to support survivors and to investigate and address allegations of sexual misconduct.

This week, sexual assaults were reported to our UNL Police Department. And they immediately began investigating each of them. My heart breaks at the thought of any young person facing that trauma at the beginning of their collegiate experience, or at any time they are a member of our UNL family.

I know that our UNL Police Chief, Hassan Ramzah, also takes this very seriously and uses a trauma-informed approach in working with the victims and thoroughly investigating each case as he’s doing right now.

We all wish that resolution of these cases could come swiftly. But often, it’s not as simple as “locking them up.” The guarantee of due process is part of our Constitution and core to who we are as Americans.

Our law enforcement officials, our Title IX officials, are bound by clear legal guidance and process. As a university, we have a responsibility to follow that defined process and protect the rights of all involved - even while we move as quickly as we can.

And I know that the end of that legal process sometimes just doesn’t feel like justice. I get that. I understand many of you are angry. I’m angry too.

We will always work harder and to do better to help prevent sexual assault. And I hope all of you will as well. If you see something, say something. Stick together. Be safe. Take care of one another.

And if you’re a young man who somehow thinks this is cool - think again. It is unacceptable. No means no. And if you violate that, and we can prove it - you have no place on our campus.

This message includes safety and victim resources available to our UNL community. Please make sure you are aware of all of the safety measures available to you. And if you are a victim of sexual assault or harassment, there are people here to help you.

Resources for anyone who has been a victim of sexual misconduct: https://www.unl.edu/equity/getting-help

UNL Center for Advocacy, Response and Education: https://care.unl.edu/

Counseling and Psychological Services: https://caps.unl.edu/

Employee Assistance Program: https://hr.unl.edu/eap/

University Police: https://police.unl.edu/

UNL Report: https://unlreport.unl.edu/

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