Monday, January 6, 2014

PRESS RELEASE: Assemblyman Gatto Takes Action to Protect Victims of On-Campus Rapes and Similar Crimes

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                     Contact:  Justin Hager (818) 558-3043
January 6, 2014                                                               Mobile (415) 889-9762

Assemblyman Mike Gatto Takes Action to Protect
Victims of On-Campus Rapes and Similar Crimes

SACRAMENTO, CA – Assemblyman Mike Gatto (D-Los Angeles) introduced legislation today to ensure that crimes committed on college campuses are properly reported and investigated.  The legislation, AB 1433, would require colleges to report certain crimes occurring on or near campus to local law enforcement to investigate, if the victim does not request anonymity. 

The legislation comes after several California colleges have been accused of covering-up on-campus sexual assaults because of concerns that higher crime statistics would lead prospective students to choose elsewhere.  The unwillingness of campus officials to involve proper non-campus law-enforcement professionals greatly diminishes the chance that a perpetrator is arrested and convicted.  This, of course, can allow a perpetrator to strike again.

“Victims of crime should not see their chances of justice hurt, nor should perpetrators be allowed to victimize others, because a school values its public image more than victims' rights,” said Gatto.  “Colleges should focus on teaching, and leave the investigation of crimes to the professionals -- local police and sheriffs.”

Two southern California colleges are currently the subject of a federal investigation for their handling of on-campus sexual assaults and other violent crimes.  In addition to the federal investigation, five U.S. campuses, including three in California, are the subject of a federal lawsuit alleging violations of Title IX and the Clery Act.  The Clery Act is the federal law that requires colleges and universities to disclose (once a year, in an annual report) information about crimes that happen on or near campuses.

In addition to failing to report crimes, several California colleges have also been criticized for failing to notice signs of dangerous or abusive criminal activity.  At one state university, the administration admittedly failed to recognize the brutal, racially based abuse of a seventeen-year-old African-American student by his roommates.  The abuse was discovered only after the young man was allegedly held captive in his room with a bicycle lock chained around his neck. 

“Crimes that occur on campus should not be treated any differently than those that occur elsewhere in our community,” said Assemblyman Gatto.  "California law needs to make sure that college administrators involve law enforcement when appropriate.”

Mike Gatto is the Chairman of the Appropriations Committee in the California State Assembly.  He represents Burbank, Glendale, La Cañada Flintridge, La Crescenta, Montrose, and the Los Angeles neighborhoods of Atwater Village, East Hollywood, Franklin Hills, Hollywood Hills, Los Feliz, and Silver Lake. 

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