When Cody Keller’s friend came to him last year and told him she
had been sexually assaulted by an acquaintance, he told her to go
to the police immediately.
“I didn’t want the guy to get away with it that time,” said
Keller, a sophomore biochemistry major. “If he gets away with it
what’s to stop him next time?”
The CSU Police Department reports that almost 98 percent of
sexual assaults are committed by an acquaintance to the victim; a
statistic that scares Megan Slough, a senior human development and
family studies major.
“I try to choose my friends wisely, but such a high percentage
of assaults (by acquaintances) makes me feel a little uneasy, it’s
a bit shocking,” Slough said.
One in four women, and one in 17 men, will be the victim of a
sexual assault or an attempted sexual assault according to Colorado
crime statistics, but CSU has a variety of services that hope to
enhance awareness and support for victims of sexual assault.
Although many sexual assaults are unreported, CSU has a high
reporting rate for sexual assault compared to other universities
around the nation, said Jody Jessup, assistant director for Women’s
Programs and Studies.
“The higher reporting rate does not mean we have more sexual
assaults,” Jessup said. “It is because we have a web of support at
CSU that allows students to be comfortable enough to report the
Last year, 47 on-campus sexual assaults were reported to the CSU
Police Department, compared to only 11 filed reports at University
of Colorado at Boulder.
The process for reporting a sexual assault at CSU is similar to
reporting a crime at any other police department, but legal action
following the report is handled as a special case scenario, said
CSUPD Sgt. Mark Childress.
“Sexual assault removes power and control from the victim and we
want to return that power and control to them every step of the
way,” Childress said. “We keep the victim very informed on what’s
going on and how they want the case to proceed.”
There are also several services on the CSU campus that assist
sexual assault victims beyond their legal dealings.
As soon as a victim calls the police, a dispatcher contacts the
CSU Victim’s Assistance Team, who arrives on the scene with the
police department to provide support for the victim.
“VAT responds to the victim’s needs, and helps them deal with
the psychological, physical or legal aftermath,” said Jessup, VAT
coordinator. “We get them through the sexual assault examination,
filling out the police report, the investigation, the court process
and anything else they need.”
A trained VAT volunteer staff is on call 24 hours a day every
day of the year and is a service available to any CSU student.
Victims are often referred to the University Counseling Center
as another means for support, although victims can also access the
center themselves with daily walk-ins and counselors on call for
“Counseling can be helpful in a number of ways,” said Elizabeth
Sutphin, a university counselor. “It is helpful to be able to talk
about the experience in a safe environment; connecting to other
people can be very powerful and we also help to give them skills to
notice the red flags of sexual assault.”
As a group CSUPD, Women’s Programs and Studies, VAT and the
University Counseling Center are great resources if sexual assault
does occur, Childress said.
“The services at CSU are absolutely invaluable,” Childress said.
“As law enforcement we have to be objective so we can complete an
accurate investigation, but the other services take care of the
routine things that are important to the victim.”
Keller said he learned from his experience with a friend’s
assault how sexual assault victims should realize that utilizing
people and resources can really help.
“Don’t be afraid to tell someone about it,” Keller said. “It is
one of the worst mistakes for victims to keep it to