Sexual assault reports nearly double at University of Kansas - KCTV5

Sexual assault reports nearly double at University of Kansas

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LAWRENCE, KS (KCTV/AP) -

The University of Kansas received nearly twice as many sexual assault complaints in 2014 than the year before. School officials attribute the increase to improved awareness of the crime.

The school's Office of Institutional Opportunity and Access says it received 169 complaints last year, compared with 85 in 2013. The vast majority of the complaints involved sexual or domestic assault.

IOA Executive Director Jane McQueeny said 120 of the 169 complaints were filed under Title IX, which requires campuses to provide an education environment that is free from sexual harassment, sexual assault and domestic violence.

The Lawrence Journal-World reports McQueeny estimated half of the 2014 complaints came in after September, when students protested against the university's handling of alleged rape complaints.

She says 28 of the complaints remain open, and five new complaints have been filed so far this year.

"I don't think it's an increase in assaults," McQueeny told KCTV5's Emily Rittman. "What we know from the research is this is one of the most under-reported crimes . . . on college campuses."

Students say they feel more comfortable speaking up after the vocal protests.

"Just because it happens in a dorm on campus or in a fraternity house, it's still a crime," KU student Jessy Walkes said. "It needs to be treated as such."

A task force created by the university is examining how KU investigates sexual assaults. Some student leaders say they are waiting to see the recommendations from the task force, and whether they are successfully implemented. The recommendations are expected in May.

The U.S. Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights is conducting a probe into sexual violence against women on the campuses. KU is among the dozens of higher education campuses under scrutiny.

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