College sex assault warning criticized

October 24, 2013 

CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) – Some are questioning a warning to students issued by the College of Charleston police after two reported sexual assaults near the college's downtown campus.

The notification issued Tuesday provided basics about the assaults and but also noted that noted both victims had been drinking. The email also listed statistics about how often alcohol is a factor for victim or perpetrator in sexual crimes.

Police are investigating the two incidents which happened within the last week and said no arrests have been made. One assault happened at an apartment and the victim was not a student. The second happened in a car off campus between two students who authorities said knew each other.

Some say that including the information about drinking might be interpreted as blaming the victims.

College Vice President of Student Affairs Jeri Cabot says that was not the intent. She said that the blame still lies with the perpetrator whether or not alcohol is involved.

“Just because someone is drinking does not give anybody the right to go forward with a sexual act,” she said.

But she added that school officials could not ignore the link between drinking and the increased probability of risky behavior.

Dean Kilpatrick, the director of the National Crime Victims Center at the Medical University of South Carolina, said stressing the possible role of alcohol in the attacks could alienate the victims.

“There's often a subtle message that if you are doing something wrong, it's your fault,” he said. “Just because you do something foolish, that doesn't give anybody the right to rape you.”

The Post and Courier of Charleston reported that between 2008 and 2012, of the 13 assaults reported to campus police, 10 involved a victim using alcohol.

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