Southwestern

Engaging Minds, Transforming Lives

Title IX

Legal Issues

Filing a Report with SU Police

How do I contact the police about being sexually assaulted?

If you think you have been sexually assaulted (even if you are unsure), you can call SU police 24-hours a day at 863-1944 or dial 911.

If I talk to an officer, do I have to make an official report or press charges?

If a crime has occurred, police officers in the State of Texas, including SU Police, MUST pursue an investigation, even without your consent. Therefore charges may be filed if you report a sexual assault to the police.

Does it matter where the incident occurred? What if it happened in Austin or elsewhere?

If the assault occurred on campus or at an official campus-sponsored event held off campus (e.g., a fraternity or sorority party), the SU police have jurisdiction. Even if the assault occurred off campus, you can call the SU police and they will help get you in contact with the authorities who would have jurisdiction. If the assault occurred off campus and you would like to talk to the police in that jurisdiction directly, call 911.

What if I had been drinking or using drugs, or if I was violating any law or SU policy when the assault occurred? Won’t I get into trouble if I report it?

In most cases the police are going to be concerned with the bigger crime, and sexual assault is a much bigger priority to them than underage drinking or campus violations. Please do not hesitate to call, even if you’ve been drinking or using drugs.

What if time has passed (days, weeks) – can I still make a report?

Due to shock, confusion, or drugs or alcohol, many victims don’t realize until later that they were forced or coerced into sexual activity. You can make a report whenever you feel ready. The police will follow the same procedures no matter when you come forward. Realistically, it helps your criminal or campus disciplinary case to come forward sooner, rather than later. But it is never too late to make a report!

Can I bring someone with me to talk to the police?

Yes, in fact the police encourage you to bring a trusted friend or family member. You can also request to have an SU counselor or an advocate from Williamson County Crisis Center (Hope Alliance) accompany you through the reporting process to provide information and support.

What will happen when I contact the SU police?

When you call the SU police, they will ask you to come in and talk to an officer in person where you can talk safely and confidentially. They may encourage you to bring someone you trust, and they may ask if you’d like to have an SU counselor come to provide support.

The police officer will assess whether you need immediate medical attention, and if so, help you to get to an ER for a medical exam and/or a rape kit.

When a crime occurs, police officers in the State of Texas, including SU Police, MUST pursue an investigation, even if it is without your consent. Therefore charges may be filed if you report a sexual assault to the police.

If you report to SU police, they will ask you to provide a written statement. This should be written in the presence of a police officer. The officer will then go over the statement with you to ensure it is complete. This report can serve as your statement for use in criminal charges or a campus disciplinary complaint, or both. That way, you do not have to tell your story over and over again.

Can my identity remain confidential if I file a police report?

Since police officers in the State of Texas must pursue an investigation if a crime has occurred, your identity will not remain confidential.

Should I file a police report if I don’t think I’ll press criminal charges?

If you choose to report your assault to a police officer, they may pursue an investigation and press criminal charges without your consent. You may choose to discuss your options before filing a police report by contacting Williamson County Crisis Center (Hope Alliance) at (800) 460-SAFE or a counselor from SU’s Counseling Service.

When I’m making the police report, what if I forget things or can’t remember exactly what happened?

Remember that the police are there to help you, and you can take your time in telling your story. The police officer understands you are probably very upset and confused and will try to make you as comfortable as possible, given the circumstances. That’s another reason having a friend and/or an SU counselor there can be helpful.

When you file the report, it is important that you are accurate in each statement that you make to law enforcement officials. Inaccurate or incorrect information may cause the officers to follow false leads, wasting time and hurting your credibility as a witness. If you are not certain of something, be sure to say so. If you do not know something exactly, describe it in the best detail you can. Remember, the officers are not there to judge you – their intention is to investigate a crime. It is also important to describe what sexual acts were forced upon you; this can mean the difference between an assault versus an attempted assault charge. You need to tell the whole story even though you might be embarrassed. Remember, it is not your fault that these things happened – it is the fault of the perpetrator!

What are my options in terms of pressing charges?

If you have been sexually assaulted, you have numerous options including doing nothing at all, or any of the following:

You can pursue criminal charges based on Texas state laws regarding sexual assault. This would entail making a police report followed by an investigation and possible criminal proceedings involving the District Attorney’s office.

You can pursue a case through a civil suit. This option generally seeks monetary remedies and does not involve jail time or campus disciplinary sanctions for the perpetrator.

Finally, you may choose to formally press charges through the campus disciplinary system based on SU’s Sexual Misconduct Policy. This would involve making a report with the Dean of Students or the Sexual Misconduct Officer expressing a desire to register a formal complaint. Once notified of allegations, an investigation and a hearing with the Sexual Misconduct Hearing Board will follow. Disciplinary options proceed much more quickly than criminal charges, but if the accused is found guilty, outcomes would be limited to campus-level sanctions.

How do I decide whether to pursue criminal charges?

You don’t have to decide right away! In deciding whether or not to pursue charges, consider the following pros and cons:

Advantages:
  • Reporting the crime can be an empowering step on the path to healing. Remember, you have nothing to be ashamed of – it’s the perpetrator who committed a crime!
  • If you report the crime and the perpetrator is caught and convicted, you may have protected others from falling victim to the perpetrator. Also, your report may help strengthen another survivor’s report.
  • You don’t have to go through it all alone – you can request assistance from a sexual assault advocate from Williamson County Crisis Center (Hope Alliance), SafePlace, or from an SU counselor.
  • You may be eligible for Crime Victims’ Compensation by the State of Texas.
Drawbacks:
  • Pressing charges can be an emotionally difficult experience, particularly as you will need to revisit the story many times. However, this repetition can also provide a source of healing.
  • You may not always have control over how the case proceeds. The District Attorney may decide to prosecute the case without your cooperation or the DA may decide not to prosecute even if you choose to report the crime and press charges. If the DA decides not to file, you are entitled to know why. (Please remember that even if you decide not to press criminal charges, you are entitled to pursue a formal complaint through the campus disciplinary system – see page 20).
  • The statistics on conviction can be disappointing – fewer than one in five cases will go to trial, and of those, fewer still will result in conviction.

Can the police protect me if I’m afraid my attacker (or his/her friends) will come after me?

SU police and administrators take sexual misconduct complaints very seriously and will make every effort to prevent retaliation from occurring. One of the reasons you are encouraged to make a report to administrators or the police is so that your rights can be protected. The University does not tolerate any kind of retaliation, and if it occurs, the accused would face University disciplinary procedures.

As of September, 2003, Texas enacted a new law allowing sexual assault victims to pursue a protective order against their attacker. The protective order does not require a conviction or even a pending criminal proceeding, and there are no fees or lawyers required—contact the District or County Attorney’s office at 1 (800) 983-9933.

What if I hear about a friend being raped – should I tell the police about it?

You can call the SU Counseling Services (512-863-1252) to discuss your concerns and talk about options. They will listen to you and help you to consider options of how to help your friend.

Who can I call to get more information about legal issues and options?

While there may be limits to confidentiality, you can call the SU Police Chief at (512) 863-1944. You may also contact the Victim/Witness Coordinator for the Williamson County DA’s Office at (512) 943-1234.