MIAMI, FL—Officials at the University of South Florida (USF) recently reported that there appeared to be an upsurge in the number of sexual assaults reported on the Tampa-based campus, which accommodates approximately 40,000 students. According to information provided by the St. Petersburg Times, USF authorities noted that although seven sexual assault victims reported their cases last year, the highest tally since 2000, the general underreporting of college rapes makes it is hard to determine the true extent of the problem.
Reports indicated that compared with the number of sexual assault reports received by USF campus officials during an average year, there was more than a threefold jump during the year 2009. According to Nanci Newton, the director of USF’s Center for Victim Advocacy & Violence Prevention, the increase in sex assault reports suggests that more victims were taking the initiative to actually speak up about their attacks.
While all seven of the USF rape victims who came forward reported being attacked by individuals they knew or were even “dating” at the time, several factors often leave victims of so-called “acquaintance rapes” unable to obtain justice. For instance, proving a lack of consent can be a difficult process, even if the alleged attacker provides a signed confession. This is because unless prosecutors have another means of proving that the rape genuinely occurred, a signed confession cannot be considered a legitimate form of evidence.
Furthermore, Newton noted that since alcohol tends to play a role in many on-campus sexual attacks, it is hard to prove that the victim didn’t provide consent while drunk. Thus, jury members have been known to place blame on women who are intoxicated when they attacked. “Nobody understands the ruinous impact it has on the victim… She was defenseless, helpless,” Newton maintained.
With the U.S. Department of Justice (USDOJ) estimating that 95 percent of college rapes go unreported, it is not surprising that the problem has been referred to as a “silent epidemic” in the past. Shockingly, Justice Department statistics suggest 1 in 4 female students will fall victim to sexual assault or rape at some point during their college careers.
About the Miami Sexual Assault Lawyers and Personal Injury Attorneys of Gerson & Schwartz, P.A.
Working closely with advocacy groups such as the National Center for Victims of Crime (NCVC), the Miami sexual assault attorneys of Gerson & Schwartz are dedicated to protecting and enforcing the rights of rape and sexual assault victims. With more than 30 years of experiencing litigating a variety of complex injury and assault claims, the Florida injury attorneys of Gerson & Schwartz, P.A. will fight to help victims of sexual assault and rape obtain the justice a compensation they deserve.