University of Wisconsin-Madison police released information Thursday about a sexual assault that allegedly occurred at a fraternity house on Langdon Street last weekend, but the incident has not yet been reported to the Madison Police Department, according to an MPD spokesman.
“It certainly could be that there was a sexual assault and it could be reported to us, but at this point we don’t have a victim and we don’t have anyone bringing us information,” said MPD public information officer Joel DeSpain Thursday afternoon.
UW-Madison Police issued a campus alert Thursday that contained very few specifics about an alleged sexual assault that occurred at a fraternity house on Saturday in which “the victim may have been drugged.” The fraternity wasn't identified and there was no official incident report available because police have yet to become officially involved.
According to UWPD spokesman Marc Lovicott, the incident was reported by a third party to a campus official who, in turn, initiated a chain of events leading to Thursday’s campus alert, which is required under the federal Clery Act.
“An individual disclosed to a residence life staff member, who happens to be a Campus Security Authority, that their friend had been the victim of a sexual assault on Langdon Street,” Lovicott said. “Because that happened and it was reported to a Campus Security Authority, they’re obligated to report the sexual assault to campus and that triggers a process in which we get involved and evaluate whether or not it meets the threshold set forth by the federal Clery Act to send out a crime warning to campus. And this one did.”
If police are contacted, the Madison Police Department would investigate as the alleged assault reportedly took place off campus, Lovicott said.
“It happened off campus, but it happened, allegedly, at a fraternity on Langdon, so even if the individual did contact law enforcement, the city would take the case,” Lovicott said. “But because it allegedly happened at a fraternity, the university gets involved.”
DeSpain said the MPD is aware of the alleged incident, but has received no other information.
“As soon as I saw it, I printed it and I took it to our detective lieutenant at the Central District and I said, ‘Do we have a sexual assault on Langdon that’s been reported to us that matches this information?’” DeSpain said. “And he said, ‘No, we don’t have anything.’”
The Clery Act defines the types of officials who can be Campus Security Authorities and what those people are required to do when they learn of a possible crime. According to the UWPD website, the law was amended in 2013 to “broaden the rights and resources that victims of sexual assault, domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking are entitled to.”
A year ago, results of a UW-Madison survey revealed that one in four female undergrads said they had been sexually assaulted while enrolled, but most of them chose not to report the assaults to authorities.
“There are women who are sexually assaulted who go have a (sexual assault forensic) exam, but don’t want police notified right away,” DeSpain said. “But we haven’t gotten a call on this, and sometimes it’s even friends of victims who call. We don’t have anything.”
This summer, the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights opened its fourth investigation into UW-Madison's treatment of sexual assault cases.