Three universities investigate sexual assaults in first week of class

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (Aug. 27, 2015) -- Three of Indiana's biggest universities took in sexual assault reports during the first week of classes.

Police at Indiana University, Purdue University and Ball State University all investigated complaints of sexual assault.

At IU and Purdue, both cases involved students who knew each other and alcohol was involved.

At Ball State, a woman at the university's hospital reported a rape. Police arrested 22-year-old Garrett Owens for the crime, saying the victim repeatedly asked him to stop. It is not known if either Owens or the victim were Ball State students.

"Now is a time, because of the transition experience into college, where students are unfortunately more at risk," Leslie Fasone, IU Assistant Dean for Women's and Gender Affairs, said.

Students at all of those schools went back to class Monday. As part of their orientation, all IU freshmen were required to attend a program that focused on sexual assault and complete an online course.

Fasone said IU and other schools are working to re-write the book and change the culture regarding sexual assault. She pointed to the increased attention as a possible reason for the reports.

"It may not look good to the public or to how people perceive it but to us, that is a win, because that means that people are getting help," Fasone said.

This year, more effort is also being made to alert students to the use of the Lifeline Law in sexual assaults. If underage drinking is involved, a student can receive immunity in reporting the assault.

Fasone pointed out that it is difficult to change the culture on college campuses overnight but that the more students speak up and get help, the more the stigma over sexual assault will break down, hopefully in an effort to eventually stop it altogether.

"I think that the more that students will see that other students are coming forward, the more that those students who have experienced an assault will come forward," Fasone said.

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