University issues annual crime report
2018 statistics reflect present-day reporting increases and, per federal law, include reports of decades-old crimes related to the investigation of sexual abuse by Richard Strauss
The Ohio State University released today its Annual Security and Fire Safety Reports, showing an increase in present-day crime reporting on or near the Columbus campus.
Today’s release — with statistics from January 1, 2018, through December 31, 2018 — complies with the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act.
Because the Clery Act requires that incidents are counted in the year they were reported, rather than the year in which they occurred, the statistics also include incidents of sexual abuse by Richard Strauss. Strauss was a university-employed physician from 1978 to 1998. He died in 2005. Strauss’ abuse was the subject of an independent investigation by Perkins Coie LLP made public by Ohio State in May. It detailed acts of sexual abuse against at least 177 former students by Strauss. Perkins Coie provided the majority of Strauss-related data for this year’s security report.
Clery Act requirements
The Clery Act is a federal statute requiring institutions of higher learning that receive federal funding to publish an annual security report by October 1 each year.
It requires the inclusion of reported incidents that occurred on campus, in non-campus university buildings or property owned or controlled by Ohio State or its recognized student organizations, and on public property within or immediately adjacent to and accessible from campus.
In accordance with the Clery Act, colleges and universities are further required to:
- Count incidents in the year they were reported rather than the year in which they occurred.
- Provide statistics reflecting total incidents reported and not the total number of victims. One individual could report multiple incidents, and each of those incidents would be counted separately and then added together toward a total number.
- Include incidents in which an individual shares that another person was the victim of a crime or that multiple people were victims. If no further details are available, a determination is made based on the characterization of the reporting party.
“The university is committed to continued transparency in the vitally important area of campus and community safety,” said Vice President and Chief Compliance Officer Gates Garrity-Rokous. “The Clery Act sets precise direction to disclose reported instances of crime annually, and today’s report has made every attempt to make all reportable crimes known and readily available to the public.”
2018 reporting statistics for Columbus
The statistics include information from Ohio State’s police division and a number of other university officials designated as Campus Security Authorities and local law enforcement agencies.
Crime reports on and near the university’s Columbus campus generally increased in 2018.
Rape reports increased from 72 to 93 in instances unrelated to Strauss. Instances of fondling, also unrelated to Strauss, increased from 30 to 48. University officials cited several factors that may have contributed to these increases, including an ongoing focus on educating faculty, staff and students on reporting.
According to Ohio State’s 2017 Campus Climate survey — the latest data available — 77% of students were somewhat or very knowledgeable about where to make a report of sexual assault or sexual misconduct at Ohio State in 2017, compared to 48% in 2015.
Additionally, 70% of student respondents believed that it was very or extremely likely that a report of sexual assault or sexual misconduct would be taken seriously by campus officials.
Burglary reports increased in 2018 from 49 to 95. The most significant uptick took place in academic, recreational and medical center facilities while residence halls saw a modest increase.
The university issued three Public Safety Notices in 2018 (March, August and December) after recognizing separate rashes of burglary. Police made three arrests related to these crimes.
Burglaries from residence hall suites that involve thefts from multiple rooms count as separate incidents. Ohio State continues to train its police officers in the details of the Clery Act and the Ohio Revised Code to reinforce reporting differences.
Ohio State continues to educate incoming students about safety and offer support resources.
In 2018, the university announced the creation of the Office of Institutional Equity. This centralized office is responsible for support of students, faculty and staff, and Ohio State’s compliance with Title IX, the Americans with Disabilities Act and other federal and state laws, and university policies.
More broadly, the university advanced ongoing efforts to address sexual misconduct, including the launch in 2015 of Buckeyes ACT, a community-wide approach to combat sexual misconduct through action, counseling and support, and training.
In 2016, Ohio State implemented mandatory sexual misconduct prevention education for incoming students. The university expanded this requirement in 2018 to all students, faculty and staff.
Ohio State also continues to conduct annual campus climate surveys that catalog attitudes and experiences related to sexual misconduct, most recently in spring 2019. The survey results will be announced this fall.
The university’s Surviving an Active Aggressor video is required viewing on the new student orientation checklist. Ohio State also launched a new ridesharing initiative prior to the 2019 autumn semester called Lyft Ride Smart at Ohio State. The program offers students discounted rides, on or near campus, between the hours of 9 p.m. and 3 a.m.
Strauss’ abuse from decades ago was the subject of an independent investigation by Perkins Coie announced last year by Ohio State. The findings detailed acts of sexual abuse against at least 177 former students and concluded that university personnel at the time had knowledge of complaints and concerns about Strauss’ conduct as early as 1979 but failed to investigate or act meaningfully.
“On behalf of the university, we offer our profound regret and sincere apologies to each person who endured Strauss’ abuse,” President Michael V. Drake wrote when the university released in May the independent report on Strauss’ abuse. “Our institution’s fundamental failure at the time to prevent this abuse was unacceptable — as were the inadequate efforts to thoroughly investigate complaints raised by students and staff members.
“This independent investigation was completed because of the strength and courage of survivors. We thank each of them for their willingness to share their experiences.”
The 2018 crime statistics report complies with the Clery Act — and, in accordance with federal law, counts incidents in the year that they were reported rather than the year in which they occurred. As such, any reports made in 2018 of acts committed by Strauss in the specified locations during his 20-year employment as a physician at Ohio State, from 1978 to 1998, are included in the statistics.
- Per federal law, statistics reflect total incidents reported rather than total number of victims. One individual could report multiple crimes or multiple occurrences of a single crime, for example, and all of those reports would be counted. As evident in the findings of Perkins Coie’s Strauss investigation, several survivors reported recurring abuse.
- To help ensure an accurate accounting for Strauss’ abuse, all reports of incidents have been included. In some instances, former student-athletes indicated that, along with themselves, their teammates had been abused by Strauss decades ago. If no further details were available, a determination was made based on the characterization of the reporting party. These determinations were made by Perkins Coie using Clery Act definitions and based on reports received during its independent investigation and from guidance sought by the university from the U.S. Department of Education. Perkins Coie provided the majority of Strauss-related data for Ohio State’s 2018 security report.
The Strauss-related, Columbus-campus data that include incidents reported in 2018 show 992 instances of fondling and 30 incidents of rape attributable to Strauss. Rape, as defined by the U.S. Department of Education, includes digital and oral penetration.
During the course of the independent investigation, the university learned that one fondling was reported in 1995 and three incidents of fondling reported in 1996 were reported to the university previously. Since the university is unable to find evidence that these reports appeared in the statistics in the Annual Security Report in the year originally reported, it is disclosing them in the university’s 2018 statistics in the interest of transparency.
The figures in this year’s report reflect the most current data provided to the university. It is possible that the university may learn new information through various means, including but not limited to additional reports or litigation that could cause these figures to increase, decrease or be reclassified in accordance with federal law. Should such modifications occur, the university will publish updated statistics in order to keep the campus community informed.
Because the Clery Act counts incidents in the year they were reported rather than the year in which they occurred, additional Strauss-related incidents could be included for the next several years.
An additional 437 instances of fondling and 17 instances of rape attributable to Strauss have been identified thus far in 2019 — bringing the total to date to 1,429 instances of fondling and 47 instances of rape attributable to Strauss.
Following Clery Act requirements, 2019 data are not included in the 2018 report released today. The university is sharing them now as part of its effort to keep the community fully aware and informed, said Katherine Lasher, associate vice president for institutional equity and a member of Ohio State’s national Task Force on Sexual Abuse.
“The more information we have, the more we are able to understand and advance prevention of all forms of discrimination and harassment,” Lasher said.
Ohio State has implemented multiple additional safeguards in the 20 years since Strauss left the university. Details on programs and initiatives are on the university’s Strauss investigation website.