BYU to Stop Investigating Rape Victims for Rule-Breaking

Students complained it stifled reports of sexual abuse
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 27, 2016 1:23 PM CDT
A welcome sign to Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, is seen in April.   (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, File)
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(Newser) – Students claimed earlier this year that Brigham Young University silenced victims of sexual assault by focusing investigations on whether a victim had broken school rules prior to the assault. No more. The Mormon college in Utah says it will adopt 23 recommendations from an internal advisory committee regarding sexual assault, reports the Salt Lake Tribune. Among the changes: An office that provides services to victims will be separated from one that investigates school conduct, a new victims' advocate will be hired, and victims and witnesses will not be punished if they violated the school's Honor Code—say by drinking or consenting to premarital sex around the time of the assault, per the Washington Post.

The goal is to encourage more students to report assaults, says the advisory council's chair. "We cannot offer help and support to those traumatized by such a crime if we are not aware that such a crime has occurred," she says. "By having an amnesty clause, we hopefully will let [victims] know that they should not hold any self-blame, that we are here to provide help to them," adds a nursing professor and council member. Two victims who previously spoke out against the school's policies welcome the changes but say more are needed, per the AP. For example, the policies don't suggest new training on how Mormon bishops handle being told about sexual assault. Brigham Young says it will discuss concerns with the church. (Read more Brigham Young University stories.)

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