Repeat Campus Sexual Offenses Stir Debate

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A Kansas case is raising disturbing questions about repeat sexual offenses on campus, and whether universities do enough to prevent them, the New York Times reports. Researchers have been debating how many campus rapes are committed by serial offenders. A 2002 study based on surveys of 1,882 college men and published in Violence and Victims, an academic journal, found that as many as 63 percent of those who admitted to behaviors that fit the definition of rape or attempted rape said they had engaged in those behaviors more than once. In 2015, a study of 1,642 men at two colleges was published in JAMA Pediatrics and found that while a larger number of men admitted to behaviors that constituted rape, only about 25 percent were repeat offenders.

The difference could affect how universities approach rape investigations and prevention. Repeat cases raise questions of whether universities should be faster to remove students from campus after accusations. “There are repeat offenders who seek out victims and will do this time and time again with impunity because there is no punishment,” said Annie Clark of End Rape on Campus, a nonprofit that works to assist those who have been raped and to prevent campus sexual violence. She added, “Whatever the number is, it’s way, way too high.” Recent cases and lawsuits they have spawned, like one described by the Times at Kansas State University, have put a spotlight on repeat campus rapes. University administrators say they are hampered by women who are reluctant to identify their assailants or press charges. They also say that assaults frequently occur during parties at which students were drinking, leaving their memories clouded and the truth of what happened elusive.

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