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IOWA CITY - University of Iowa police are investigating a pair of sexual assaults that occurred over the weekend 'during the same incident” in an east-side residence hall - attacks that prompted the university to issue its sixth sexual assault-related crime alert of the academic year.
The two assaults reportedly took place early Saturday, and officials reported, 'Indications are the assaults were perpetrated by acquaintances.”
Both the victims and perpetrators knew each other, UI spokeswoman Hayley Bruce told The Gazette.
'UI Police cannot share any additional details about the incident itself at this time as an investigation is ongoing and federal regulations require police to maintain the confidentiality of the victims, including details of the incident that might identify the victims or compromise their safety,” Bruce said.
In that vein, the UI hasn't disclosed whether the assaults occurred at a party or gathering, or in what hall they took place.
'The UI Police Department only talks to a victim/survivor to gather information about an assailant if the victim/survivor chooses to share that information with police,” Bruce said in an emailed statement. 'The investigation may proceed without input from the survivor if we believe there is a compelling safety risk and there are other leads in the case to further the investigation.”
She didn't clarify whether the victims are working with investigators or whether UI police are proceeding due to risk or other leads.
'It is not yet clear if those involved wish to press charges,” Bruce said.
The assaults mark the sixth and seventh UI has reported this year on or near campus, with five reported in residence halls and two in fraternities. Perpetrators in both fraternity-related assaults reportedly knew their victims.
Most - if not all - of the others also were perpetrated by acquaintances, although UI officials didn't have those details for one and for another reported the attacker was 'an acquaintance recently met on social media.”
One of the fraternity-related assaults, on Sept. 3, reportedly involved multiple attackers.
'Indications are the assault was perpetrated by acquaintances,” according to a UI crime alert.
The university issued five sexual assault-related crime alerts to campus last academic year, six in 2018-19 and seven the academic year before that.
The campus' most-recent annual crime statistics for 2019 include 61 reports of rape both on and off campus, down from 66 in 2018 and up from 50 in 2017. Incidents of fondling, a form of sexual assault, were 37 in 2019, down from 53 in 2018 and 64 in 2017.
Iowa State University has issued two sexual assault-related campus crime alerts this academic year, and one last year. University of Northern Iowa also has issued two sex assault-related crime alerts this year.
The standard communication UI sends out with every sexual assault warning stresses only perpetrators are responsible for sexual misconduct.
'It is a violation of university policy to engage in sexual activities without clear consent from your partner,” according to the UI crime alert. 'Someone incapacitated due to alcohol or drugs cannot consent to sexual activity.”
Any student or employee found in violation of the university's sexual harassment and misconduct policy faces a range of sanctions, including expulsion or termination.
All three of Iowa's public universities have processes in place to investigate sexual violence on campus and take disciplinary action, if necessary.
Former President Donald Trump in 2017 reversed guidelines from his predecessor meant to curb sex assault on college campuses, arguing too many accused perpetrators were being wrongly charged and unfairly punished.
Trump's Education Secretary Betsy DeVos last year imposed new regulations for dealing with sex assault allegations on campus, mandating administrators support survivors without 'sacrificing important safeguards to ensure a fair and transparent process.”
President Joe Biden this week signed an executive order directing his education department to review all rules, orders, guidance and policies to make sure they're consistent with his administration's intent to rid education of sexual violence.
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