June 22, 2021

Utah’s sexual assault record continues to get worse


This archived article was written by: Alexander Holt

Utah colleges continue their dark record when it comes to rape and sexual assault. Utah’s top 11 universities, including the University of Utah, Brigham Young University, Utah State University and others have had over 120 accounts of rape and 56 accounts of sexual assault reported since 2013. Utah State University Eastern has had four accounts of sexual assault since 2015 according to the Clery Report.

The Clery Report was established by the Clery Act, which went into law in 1990 and requires all colleges and universities to disclose information about crime, sexual assault, and rape on their campuses. Among Utah schools, the U of U ranks the highest in the state in rape and sexual assault by a large margin followed by BYU, USU and Westminster. These statistics, however, only account for a small part of the total number of rapes and sexual assaults occurring on Utah campuses due to nearly 88 percent of sex crimes not being reported in Utah according the Utah Department of Health.

Utah is also reported to have one of the highest rates of rape compared to the rest of the United States, with one in eight Utah women and one in 50 Utah men reporting experiencing rape or sexual assault. This record has seen federal investigators put five Utah colleges under title investigations in the past few years including BYU, Westminster, Dixie State University, the U ofU and most recently, Utah Valley University.
This means that a majority of Utah’s four year institutions are now being investigated.

While USU is not under a Federal TitleIX Investigation, one student, – Victoria Hewlett has filed a lawsuit against USU saying that USU knew about accusations towards another student, Jason Relopez, and did nothing. Relopez was accused of raping five USU students since 2015.

The U of U is also under federal scrutiny as the Department of Education stated that the school had “certain potentially serious shortcomings in the university’s campus safety operations and Clery Act compliance program,” after two Utah graduates filed a complaint with how the school reported a rape back in October of 2016. The U of U and other colleges are making improvements to increase security and protection for sexual assault and rape survivors as well as to prevent further incidents, like increased lighting and more awareness programs, however, according to the Clery Reports, there as been no significant increase or decrease in the number of reported rapes or sexual assaults. With this, some schools are still trying to create new ways of reducing these crimes.

USU, despite the lawsuit mentioned earlier, has introduced Haven Plus, a sexual assault, harassment, stalking and relationship violence awareness training that every student is required to take prior to attending school. Haven Plus is also required at all of USU’s regional campuses as well as USU Eastern’s Price and Blanding campuses.

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