Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Sexual assault reports have doubled at the University within a year


The University of Alabama’s sexual assault reports have more than doubled from 2014 to 2015.

According to the Tuscaloosa Police Department, 22 sexual assaults were reported on campus in 2014 and 45 in 2015. Sexual assault reports include people 16 years of age or older.

Lieutenant of Homicide Kip Hart started handling sexual assault cases in Jan. 2001. He has seen the number of reports grow every year.

“One-third of all sexual assault cases in Tuscaloosa County is University-related,” Hart said.

Hart said about 90 percent of reports in 2015 were closed with prosecution or dismissed because there was a lack of evidence.

There were 107 sexual assault reports in the county in 2014 and 135 in 2015.

“In my experience, I’d say probably 85 percent of all the sexual assault cases involve drugs and/or alcohol,” Hart said. “It is far more common to have one, if not both offenders, drinking or taking illegal narcotics. “

Hart warns that drinking can put people in difficult situations.

“You will do things under the influence of alcohol that you wouldn’t do sober, like taking a ride from a stranger,” he said. “You have to make good choices, and it is harder to make good choices when you are impaired.”

Title IX Coordinator Beth Howard works to make the University campus safer with the police. Title IX is a university-based organization that oversees issues dealing with sexual assault and gender discrimination.

“I talk to a police officer every day,” Howard said. “[Title IX] works very closely [with the police department]. We have separate investigations, but, a lot of the time, we are working on the same things.”

Nicole Rickert, a freshman majoring in biology, worked with police to catch a man she said sexually harassed her on campus.

“I was at the Ferguson Center, and a man started talking to me, asking me for my phone number and telling me how beautiful I was,” Rickert said. “When I told him no and tried to get away from him, he followed me.”

The police caught the man outside Amelia Gayle Gorgas Library and found that he had outstanding arrest warrants.

“I was really happy that he was apprehended because he had a previous record. Police were looking for him before my call even came in,” Rickert said. “The scariest part about it, and what keeps running through my mind, is: That was the middle of the day. I keep thinking, ‘What if that happened at night?’ ”

Hart said overall it’s best to be aware of your surroundings no matter where you are or what time of day it is.

“We live in a very safe place. But no matter where you live, bad things can still happen,” Hart said.

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