An alleged sexual assault was reported to Cape Cod Community College (4Cs) Campus Police on September 3, 2019. The assault was reported to the campus community via a Clery Timely Warning Notice (CTWN) email from Chief Maria Padilla. Two students, who are reported to not be previously familiar with each other, are said to have been involved in the assault that occurred in the entrance way of the Lorusso Applied Technology Building.

A suspect has reportedly been identified and has been put on interim academic suspension pending an investigation by Campus Police. Barnstable and Massachusetts State Police have been notified of the assault as well, according to Chief Padilla. Lisa Kopecky, 4Cs Vice President of Finance & Operations, confirms that criminal charges have been filed against the alleged assailant.

“[Sexual assault] is a hard problem to prevent because college campus’ are usually [targets for predators] in these situations, but maybe [the problem could be checked by] getting more cameras on campus outside the buildings and near the parking lots, and maybe some in the hallways also, and putting more campus officers on duty,” said 4Cs student Malique Pells.

According to womenshealth.gov, 1 in 5 women in college will be sexually assaulted, and of those victims, only 1 in 5 will report the assault. The Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network reports 5.4% of undergraduate males report rape or sexual assault.

Sexual assaults among college students often involve the use or abuse of drugs and alcohol. Womenshealth.gov lists steps students can take to prevent the possibility of becoming victims of an attack: get to know someone well before spending time alone with him or her, go to parties or hangouts with friends, meet first dates or new people in a public place, listen to your instincts or “gut feelings”, be aware of your alcohol or drug intake, keep control of your own drink, get help right away, be aware of your surroundings, know your resources and have a plan to get home.

“Communication is important,” said Chief Padilla. “Talking to all of the students and staff here so when something goes wrong, I have more than two eyes. I almost need everybody’s eyes to tell me when a situation is going wrong on campus.”

A 2016 study by the National Center for Education Statistics: Institute of Education Sciences reports a 205% increase in reports of sexual assaults on college campuses. It is not clear if the amount of assaults have increased, or whether it is the amount of assaults being reported that have gone up. Either way, a college campus is supposed to be a safe space for students and these statistics paint a picture of quite the opposite.

“Students, or anyone on campus should definitely get in contact with campus police, or dial 911 [if a sexual assault is occurring],” said Tracy Morin, 4Cs Director of Student Engagement, and Title IX Officer.

Title IX is a federal and civil rights law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in any educational program or activity that receives federal funding.

“My job is to talk to students, and help with any problems that they don’t feel comfortable with, or if they don’t feel safe on campus,” said Morin. “On Tuesday, September 10th, I emailed everybody on campus to fill out a form and learn about sexual abuse, drug abuse and alcohol abuse, and how students can learn what to do if they’re in a [dangerous] situation,” said Morin. “If you know anyone that is going through this, and they’re afraid to go get help or talk to anybody, it is important to get to this problem quicker, so no one gets hurt. I want all the students that attend 4Cs to be safe, educated and to follow the rules of Title IX.”

The email Morin refers to was sent to all 4Cs students and expresses that all 4Cs students are expected to complete the sexual assault prevention for community colleges form by following a link to Everfi, a company who provides communication resources to educational institutions.

The number of reported incidents for crimes of a sexual nature at 4Cs fall well below national averages. So far in 2019, the alleged September 3 assault is the only incident of that nature to have occurred on campus this year. According to the recently released annual Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Report, there was one incident cited as “fondling” for the 2018 academic year, and one incident referred to as a “sex offense” occurring in the 2016 academic year.

A situational awareness sexual assault prevention training event is scheduled at 4Cs on September 30, from 2-3pm. The training is open to all students, faculty, and staff.

If you or anyone you know has been the victim of an attack, please do not hesitate to report the incident to campus or local police.

Photo of campus police car courtesy of MainSheet Archives