Russlynn Ali, assistant secretary for civil rights in the U. Department of Education, said the Tribune's findings are in keeping with anecdotal evidence her office has gathered from victims."I say this, albeit, with a very heavy and saddened heart," Ali said."These kinds of data are illustrative of the disturbing and alarming trend we are seeing across this country."For its survey, the Tribune selected public and private colleges with varying student enrollments in Illinois and Indiana.The University of Illinois at Chicago noted in a 2010 report to the federal government that "it has been very difficult to get sexual assault cases" prosecuted by the Cook County state's attorney's office.
The Tribune's analysis found that at the six Midwestern universities surveyed, law enforcement made one arrest for about every 14 alleged sex crimes — including rape, attempted rape, sexual battery and sodomy — reported on campus.
The conviction rate of those arrested was 33 percent.
At Illinois State University, police handled 20 reported sex offenses, but the victims in slightly less than half of those cases declined to press charges, records show.
Rather than endure police investigations, some students have pursued the matters with their universities' administrations.
Police declined to press charges against her alleged attacker; the university eventually suspended him for a year.
Though the Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights investigated her complaint during the Bush administration and found that the university acted "promptly and appropriately," Janda still left the school rather than share a campus with the man."Part of me wonders why someone would even bother making a report," she said.The Department of Education currently is investigating a number of colleges for how they have handled sex offense reports, including Yale University, Ohio State University and Notre Dame.The department began looking into the pre-eminent Catholic university in November following a Tribune story about a student who killed herself shortly after telling campus police that a male student there sexually attacked her. By their very nature, campus sex crimes are difficult cases to investigate and prosecute.The public — and therefore potential jurors — is generally comfortable with the idea of convicting a masked rapist jumping out of a dark alley.It's harder, they said, to convict a clean-cut college student of assaulting a classmate after a night of drinking.The trend leaves untold number of college women feeling betrayed and vulnerable, believing that their allegations are not taken seriously.