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Accusations of sexual assault can impact students' lives

Being accused of a crime such as sexual assault can have a permanent impact on the accused person's life. Especially for students, these types of allegations, even if later found unsubstantiated, can damage one's reputation.

But are there a lot of accusations of sexual assault on college campuses in Wisconsin? How often is it reported? Universities across the nation that receive any type of federal funding are required to report the number of sexual assaults that are reported on their campus each year. This includes the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

The University of Wisconsin schools give the number of reported sexual assaults to the Offices of the Dean of Students. Statistics show that the number of reported sexual assaults has increased since 2009. But school officials believe that these numbers are much lower than the actual number of sexual assaults that occur.

A recent study gives several reasons why sexual assault is believed to be underreported:

  • Victims are not sure whether the assault was serious enough to report
  • Victims think that police won't believe them
  • Fear of being punished for underage drinking
  • Fear that the accused will retaliate against the victim

But what happens to the students who are accused of sexual assault? If law enforcement receives a report of sexual assault, they will likely investigate the accusations to determine whether they are legitimate or not.

The person accused of sexual assault could face criminal charges of sexual assault. If the person is convicted, penalties can extend beyond the legal sanctions. If the person is a student, a criminal conviction could jeopardize their education, not to mention future career opportunities.

Students who have been accused of sexual assault should understand the consequences that come with a conviction. It's important to speak with someone who knows what options are available to defend against such allegations.

Source: The Daily Cardinal online, "Sexual assault report numbers vary at UW," Alison Dirr, 25 April 2011

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