LINCOLN PARK — Over the last six months, a total of eight sex crimes have been reported on DePaul University's Lincoln Park campus, which is more than the total number of incidents in 2012 and 2013 combined.
Bob Wachowski, director of public safety at DePaul, told DNAinfo Chicago the spike in reported sex crimes is a sign more students are feeling comfortable reporting crimes.
"The university as a whole — over the last several years — has been encouraging students to report more. It's so well-promoted. You're getting it online and at orientations. It's a theme that the university has adopted that we're going to promote this throughout the year," he said.
For example, DePaul started offering bystander intervention training a couple of years ago, which teaches students positive ways they can prevent or intervene when there is risk for sexual or relationship violence, Wachowski said.
Wachowski added that DePaul isn't the only university to see a spike.
From 2001 to 2011, the number of sexual assaults reported on college campuses across the country increased by 50 percent, according to a 2014 Education Department report.
Like Wachowski, many safety specialists have attributed the larger spike to a growing national awareness of the issue, which means more victims feel comfortable coming forward.
The spike at DePaul
Of the eight reported incidents, the university only sent campus notifications for three of them.
The university said that's because the five remaining incidents did not present an ongoing threat to the DePaul community, which is the legal criteria for DePaul's alert system under the 1990 federal Clery Act.
Either the suspect was immediately apprehended, or the incidents happened months earlier than the date they were reported. In these cases, the crimes are recorded in the public safety office's daily crime log and are printed in DePaul's student newspaper The Depaulia, which was first to report the spike in crimes.
The most recent incident occurred on Jan. 14. A female student was sexually assaulted by an acquaintance at Sanctuary Hall, 2345 N. Kenmore Ave., around 3 a.m., according to the alert.
On Nov. 8, a female was assaulted by an acquaintance at an apartment in the 2300 block of North Sheffield Avenue. The university sent out an alert two days later.
On Aug. 20, a female was returning to her apartment in the 900 block of West Belden Avenue around 1:42 a.m. when she was approached by a man who made "inappropriate contact with her." She screamed and the man ran away, according to the alert.
She had been the third woman to report a sexual assault or attempted sexual assault by a similar man in the greater Lincoln Park area since Aug. 8, which prompted a Chicago Police alert. Following the release of surveillance video, a North Side man was charged in connection with the Belden Avenue incident.
According to the The Depaulia, the remaining five incidents were reported on the following dates:
• Jan. 10, 2016: Public Safety received a report of an assault that occurred in Nov. 2015 on the pathway between McGowan North and McGowan.
• Dec. 5, 2015: A criminal sexual abuse report was filed for unwanted touching in Sanctuary Hall in Oct. 2015.
• Nov. 2, 2015: A criminal sexual assault was reported via phone. Victim said he or she was sexually assaulted in a Sanctuary Townhome in March 2015.
• Oct. 23, 2015: A criminal sexual assault was reported in the 1237 W. Fullerton Ave. building. Chicago police took a DePaul student into custody.
• Sept. 10, 2015: An assault was reported in a residence hall on campus.
Breakdown by year
Though last year's crime statistics won't be officially released until September, Wachowski said DePaul likely saw more sex crimes than it has in recent years.
In 2014, students reported a total of nine sex crimes, which includes sexual assault, which is defined by unwanted penetration, and sexual abuse, which is defined as unwanted touching.
That's three times the number of such crimes DePaul saw in 2013, when students reported three sex crimes, which is one more than in 2012, when students reported two sex crimes, according to DePaul's public safety office.
Students reported one sex crime in 2011 and two in 2010, according to The Depaulia.
Wachowski encourages victims to report the crimes by calling public safety staff at 773-325-777 or visiting the office, 2345 N. Sheffield Ave., which is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
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