Penn State University tallied 56 reports of forcible sex offenses in 2012, the nation’s highest total that year. University officials attribute the total in part to the Jerry Sandusky sex abuse scandal, says the Washington Post. The University of Michigan at Ann Arbor recorded the second-highest total, 34, followed by Harvard University (31), Indiana University-Bloomington (27), Stanford University (26) and Emory University (26), said a Post analysis of federal campus crime data. The statistics offer a window into the rising number of students and employees at universities stepping forward to report sexual misconduct — and how much schools are now encouraging them to do so. Several prestigious liberal arts colleges had some of the highest rates of reported offenses per thousand students. Among them were Grinnell (more than 10), Reed (more than nine), Amherst (more than nine), Hampshire (more than eight) and Swarthmore (more than seven).
Penn State's total was up from four reported incidents in 2010 and 24 in 2011. University officials say the reporting spike in 2012, the latest year for which data is available, includes numerous crimes from prior years attributable to Sandusky, a former assistant football coach and now a convicted sex abuser. Sex assault, a longtime problem on college campuses, has become a national issue. President Obama named a White House task force on it, and Congress is considering legislation. Dozens of colleges and universities are under federal investigation for possible violations of anti-discrimination law in handling of sexual violence reports.