On Thursday, Jan. 25, Rexburg Police received a report of a sexual assault on a young woman. Upon finding the woman, the police determined that an assault had not been committed. No charges were made.
The woman met a young man at her school apartment after “matching” with him on the dating app Mutual. According to police, they both got into a car and drove to a neighboring parking lot.
The young man attempted to kiss the young woman, according to the police. The woman reportedly did not expect this and pushed him away. The man took her home without incident.
The young woman told a friend after the date she had felt violated, according to the police. This friend then told the woman’s parents. The parents then called the police.
“A lot of students are too naive,” said Captain Randy Lewis of the Rexburg Police Department. “I don’t think she knew what sexual assault is.”
Lewis stated he was concerned that students at BYU-Idaho do not know the difference between an uncomfortable situation and a sexual assault. He continued to say that a report like this could get someone in trouble if they are wrongfully accused.
“That’s why this is serious,” Lewis said. “This could affect someone’s life forever.”
Lewis said he would urge students and their parents to educate themselves on these matters. This could save a lot of trouble if students find themselves in an uncomfortable situation.
“You better get your kids prepared,” Lewis said. “Someone might hold their hand.”
In this case, no sexual advances were made outside of attempted kissing so charges were not placed against the young man.
Lewis said sexual assault is still something people should be aware of and can be very serious.
“Sexual assault is any unwanted sexual contact,” said Julie Leavitt, a public awareness coordinator at the Family Crisis Center and a senior studying communication. “This can be unwanted touching, unwanted kissing or unwanted sexual comments.”
According to BYU-Idaho’s website on sexual assault, a sexual assault is a crime of violence, anger, power and control that stems from one person’s determination to exercise power over another. All forms of sexual assault are crimes, even if you do not fight back.
Nearly 99 percent of reported offenders are male, according to BYU-Idaho’s sexual assault website. Most sexual assaults and rapes are committed by someone known to the victim.
Julie Leavitt (center), a public awareness coordinator at the Family Crisis Center and a senior studying communication, is seated with interns Maryn Doyle (right), a senior studying sociology, and Enison Okpebri (left), a senior studying public health.
The BYU-I website gives a list of ways to avoid sexual assault. These include: listening to the spirit, being alert, showing confidence, avoiding isolated areas, avoiding alcohol or drugs, making limits clear, going out in groups and avoiding all abusive relationships.
Leavitt said there are important steps one needs to take if they are sexually assaulted.
“It would be beneficial if victims went to the hospital to get a medical check to make sure they are healthy,” Leavitt said. “That can help prevent sexually transmitted infections.”
Leavitt also stated that it is a smart idea to get a rape kit done. According to Leavitt, a rape kit is a package of items used by investigators that preserves physical evidence following an allegation of sexual assault.
Leavitt said if you decide to get a rape kit, do not wash your clothes or shower. Important evidence may be on these items.
“If a victim doesn’t want to press charges, they don’t have to,” Leavitt said. “But if they do want to, they have all of that evidence from the rape kit.”
Leavitt said there are many places a victim can go for help with psychological needs. There is the Family Crisis Center in Rexburg, and students can go to BYU-I’s Title IX office.
Leavitt said it is a lot easier for a victim to get help dealing with the psychological effects than to try doing it on their own.
Leavitt said students should remember sexual assaults are never the victim’s fault.
“They’re not responsible for another person’s actions,” Leavitt said, “That person (the perpetrator) is responsible.”