Women Sue UMBC Over Sex Assault Cases | WYPR

Women Sue UMBC Over Sex Assault Cases

Sep 18, 2018

Two women are suing the University of Maryland Baltimore County, the Baltimore County Police, and the Baltimore County State’s Attorney’s Office – among others – for allegedly failing to investigate their reports of rape.

In the complaint, filed Sept. 10 in U.S. District Court in Baltimore, the women, former students, allege they were raped in separate incidents in 2015 and 2017, but that officials at the university failed to take them seriously and that the police classified their reports as "unfounded."

They charge that Baltimore County police and prosecutors routinely misclassify sexual assault reports and discard rape kits without investigations and that the police department, "covers up" reports of sexual assault, including rape, and refuses to investigate those it cannot cover up.

Scott Schellenberger, the Baltimore County State’s Attorney has said he won’t comment on pending litigation.

UMBC President Freeman Hrabowski and Provost Philip Rous issued a statement Monday saying it is not appropriate for them to comment on pending litigation, but that it "is essential to state that our campus is committed to safety and respect for all people and takes matters related to sexual misconduct very seriously."

Hrabowski met Monday with nearly 100 angry students who delivered a list of demands, including firing campus police chief Paul Dillon, whom, they said, failed to properly investigate the women’s complaints.

The university issued another statement Tuesday saying officials "have come to understand that a significant number of students do not feel well-supported by our current practices."

The statement said they would focus on "listening so that we can build relationships and work together to develop and implement solutions that help us live out our community values."

The university has scheduled a community forum from 3:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. Sept. 20 in the Recital Hall of the Fine Arts building.

Chris Krebs, who researches sexual assault trends for RTI International, a North Carolina based think tank, Says it’s difficult to quantify how often sexual assaults occur on college campuses across the country and that rates vary greatly from school to school.  Not only that, he says, sexual assault incidents are the least reported crimes.

"Our research has figured out that less than 10% of incidents are reported to authorities at a given school," he says.