This past Saturday afternoon, students received a Public Safety crime bulletin through their USFconnect email which informed them that a male USF student was “accused of raping a non-USF female, which allegedly occurred Friday night at an off-campus location.” After turning the case over to the San Francisco Police Department, Dan Lawson, director of public safety, said on Monday afternoon that there was a chance that “This case may not be charged.”
As of Monday evening, Lawson confirmed that the San Francisco district attorney’s office had dropped the charge against the unnamed USF student because they did not believe there was enough evidence to take the case to court. While he could not comment on specific details about the case or the student involved because of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), which binds the university to privacy regarding student information. However, he did say, “It is common in many acquaintance rape cases that alcohol is involved.”
Erika Carlsen, senior politics major and member of Students Taking Action Against Sexual Violence, said “I really believe [the way to prevent sexual assault] is education. A lot of people do not know that a person cannot give consent if they are under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Also to educate the USF community about how many survivors there are in our community personalizes the issue and it becomes more real.” Lawson offered advice on prevention as well. “Watch out for each other, don’t let yourself be under the influence of drugs and alcohol, which can affect judgment and the ability to identify threats,” he said.
As a result of the awareness prompted by the recent Ryan Caskey case, the USF administration has made an effort to increase education about sexual assault. Carlsen said, “We [Students Taking Action Against Sexual Violence] were really pleased with the way that the university responded this time, both in terms of how quickly they responded in getting the message out and the sensitivity of the message.”
Lawson said that rape is not unique to USF. He said, “It happens everywhere, but are people encouraged to come forward?” USF has held several forums and is currently creating a Women’s Resource Center to equip students with essential information about what sexual assault is and how to address it.