Editor’s note: This story is part of a special report by the I-Team examining how campus police at Ohio’s universities handle reports of sexual assault. Parts of this series contain detailed descriptions of alleged sexual assaults. We believe these narratives — gathered over several months — are vital for understanding campus sexual assault, and the alleged crimes that led to no charges being filed. Read the entire “Campus Sex Assaults” series here.
Many of the sexual assault police records reviewed as part of the I-Team’s investigation into how Ohio campus police handle rape cases has never before been made public.
This is because prior to last year police at private universities — such as the University of Dayton and Wittenberg University — considered themselves exempt from the public records law that applies to other Ohio law enforcement agencies.
That changed when the Ohio Supreme Court in May 2015 sided with student newspaper editor Anna Shiffbauer when she sued for access to police records at Otterbein University, north of Columbus.
Since then, this media organization has worked to educate law enforcement, universities and the public on the current law and the importance of transparency, even sponsoring a public records forum on the topic in February.
At that forum, Otterbein student newspaper advisor Hillary Warren noted that prior to the Supreme Court ruling, campus police could detain, arrest and investigate students and non-students without public scrutiny. Similar concerns had been raised at UD.
Because of this case, the I-Team included Otterbein in its analysis. We found campus police there investigated two alleged sex offenses in 2014 and 2015, including one rape charge that did not lead to prosecution:
Feb. 26, 2014
Campus police were summoned to the office of the assistant dean of students, where a student had reported a sexual assault. The victim said the incident happened on campus in September 2013, during homecoming weekend.
“(She) did not want any police involvement whatsoever,” the police report says, noting officers gave her a copy of a victim’s crime compensation booklet, had her sign a form discontinuing the investigation and informed her she had 20 years to prosecute the crime.
>> IN-DEPTH INVESTIGATION: 79 cases, 5 arrests, 0 rape convictions