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Student assaulted in McCormick area

University Police are investigating a report that a female University student was sexually assaulted in the McCormick Road residence area early Friday morning.

The student reported she had met the assailant late Thursday evening and was acquainted with him at the time of the assault, which occurred at about 4:14 a.m. Friday.

According to University Police Capt. Michael Coleman, the victim had attended a party off-Grounds where alcohol was served.

University Police Chief Michael Sheffield declined to comment as to whether the victim had been drinking but said alcohol frequently is a factor in incidents of sexual assault by an acquaintance.

Police declined to release any additional details in the interest of maintaining the victim's privacy.

Police rarely receive reports of acquaintance rapes on Grounds. However, the actual number of occurrences is believed to be much higher than the number of reports, Sheffield said.

"Rape is the most underreported crime there is, and you'd see even more date/acquaintance rape not being reported," Sheffield said.

Only 5 percent of college students report instances of sexual assault and rape, largely because most of the assaults involve assailants whom the victim knows and is reluctant to prosecute, said Claire Kaplan, Sexual Assault Education Coordinator for the Women's Center.

"Among college students [acquaintance rape] accounts for over 80 percent of sexual assaults," Kaplan said.

Sheffield said the distinctions between acquaintance rape and stranger-on-stranger rape are largely superficial.

"Legally there is no difference between stranger rape and acquaintance rape," he said. "Rape is rape."

Kaplan said the responsibility for ending a sexual encounter is up to the initiator.

"The instant someone changes their mind from consenting to not consenting and makes that decision clear, the instance can become an assault," she said.

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