A new analysis of college sexual assault reports by The Washington Post shows sharp increases between 2010 and 2012 at Penn State’s main campus and Swarthmore College outside Philadelphia.
Penn State’s main campus, with 35,000 students, had just four reported sexual assaults in 2010.
The Jerry Sandusky child abuse scandal broke the next year. By 2012, the number of reported assaults grew to 56.
Kristin Houser of the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape attributes the change to greater awareness on campuses and more support for victims.
“To see, all of a sudden, that their numbers are increasing to me is an indicator that some of the right things are happening to help students not feel so isolated and so distrustful of reaching out for help,” Houser said.
Penn State officials have said prior sexual assaults of Sandusky victims that came to light during the criminal investigation inflated the reported figures.
At Swarthmore College, where the number of cases rose from two to 12, students have initiated efforts to prevent further abuse and raise awareness — including filing a Title IX complaint with the U.S. Department of Education.