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UB & campus police investigate report of sexual assault

WBFO News file photo

The University at Buffalo and campus police are investigating a sexual assault reported over the weekend. An alert was shared with the campus community stating a student reported a sexual assault at a campus apartment Sunday by a person she was acquainted with.

UB told WBFO News it is unable to provide further information.

"University Police is at an early stage in its investigation and cannot divulge any further information about this incident without compromising the investigation and the anonymity of the victim," said John Della Contrada, Associate Vice President for Media Relations and Stakeholder Communications.

Sharon Nolan-Weiss, UB's Director of the Office of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion and Title IX, said when a sexual assault is reported, UB Police ask the victim how they want them to proceed. 

"We really want to make sure that the process is something that is comfortable for the person going forward," noted Nolan-Weiss in a WBFO News interview.

Victims have the option of pursuing criminal chargers or student judicial charges if the alleged assailant is a UB student. The University also provides support services for the victim counseling, academic accommodation or even arrange a change in housing.

Nolan-Weiss said at this point the assault was reported only to campus police. UB is not disclosing if the assault occurred on the north or south campus.  

Well before a federal probe revealed troubles in reporting sexual assaults on some campuses across the U.S. last year, UB had been following strict procedures and policy. 

Last week the leader of Buffalo State College informed the campus community the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights will investigate a claim of sexual assault. April marks Sexual Assault Awareness Month.

"In 85 to 90 percent of cases, the assailant is somebody that the student knows," noted Nolan-Weiss in discussing prevention tips. 

The following was issued in an email from Buffalo State President Katherine Conway-Turner:

To the Buffalo State Campus Community:

Earlier this week, my office was notified by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights (OCR) that it will investigate a claim that the college did not respond fully to a student’s report of sexual violence.

We will respond to and cooperate fully with OCR’s investigation. Buffalo State does not tolerate sexual assault or any other form of violence, and the college takes seriously its responsibility to respond promptly and completely to all reports of sexual misconduct. We are committed to providing a safe learning environment for all students. The student complainant will continue to have our full support and access to all appropriate services as the investigation unfolds.

As I stated last fall on my blog (http://kateconwayturner.tumblr.com/post/99666140896/keeping-our-campus-safe-from-sexual-assault) and in other campus conversations on this important topic, I believe that Buffalo State is in full compliance with OCR Title IX regulations, including those related to sexual assault. Furthermore, the college has implemented all aspects of SUNY’s uniform sexual assault prevention and response policy, first announced by Governor Cuomo in December 2014.

In its notification letter, OCR states that “opening the allegation for investigation in no way implies that OCR has made a determination with regard to its merit. During the investigation, OCR is a neutral fact-finder, collecting and analyzing relevant evidence from the complainant, the recipient, and other sources, as appropriate.”

I will continue to keep you informed, as appropriate, during the OCR review process. In the meantime, I invite you to review the college’s Title IX Compliance website (http://equity.buffalostate.edu/title-ix-compliance) and the resources available to victims of sexual assault.

Katherine Conway-Turner
President, Buffalo State College


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