News

Catching campus rapists via an online reporting tool

By Andrew Barbour
June 16th, 2015

The University of San Francisco is piloting an online reporting tool to support rape victims and help bring their attackers to justice.

sexual-assault-reportingColleges have been heavily criticized in recent years for the high frequency of sexual assaults on campus—and for their failure to support victims adequately and punish attackers. Now, the University of San Francisco is hoping that a new web-based reporting tool will help victims of sexual assault take back control of their lives, file charges if they choose—and identify serial attackers.

The new tool, known as Callisto, is the product of Sexual Health Innovations, a nonprofit organization that first unveiled the concept during a “data jam” held by the White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault in 2014. USF will be the first college to implement the new tool when it launches a pilot this August.

A central goal of the new tool is to increase the willingness of students to report an attack in the first place. According to the CDC, an estimated one in five women is the victim of an attack during their time in college, yet only 10 percent of them ever report it.

“The decision to report a sexual assault by talking to campus police or local police—or even someone in a university office—can be a daunting process,” says Peter Novak, vice provost for student life at USF. “If we can make that process available to students in the privacy of their own room to learn about that process more effectively, then we think it will provide many more options for students.”

(Next page: Timestamped records and identifying serial rapists)


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