University of Utah Officials Suspend Sexual Assault Investigation

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC4 Utah)- On Halloween, officials at the University of Utah received a report that a man wearing a Grim Reaper mask had sexually assaulted a student.

Now, five weeks later, University Police Chief Dale Brophy says the investigation is currently suspended until more evidence becomes available. 

In an email sent to students and staff members Chief Brophy was quoted saying " At this time our department is not able to determine that an incident consistent with the report given occurred at the Merrill Engineering Building parking lot that day."

Chief Brophy said hundreds of hours were spent on the investigation.

"We are not calling into question that this person may have experienced something terrible at some point in her life, but we are not able to find evidence that a crime occurred at the place, date, and time reported."

President of the university, David W. Pershing released the following statement in response:

I appreciate the thorough and sensitive investigation of this report by our University Public Safety officers. It is frustrating for them, and for all of us, when a report such as this does not result in a clear resolution. But I do believe this case has strengthened our resolve to spur positive change. As I have said before, violence has no place on our campus, and sexual assault threatens the safety of students on campuses across the country, including our own.
 
We know it is a crime that is underreported throughout our society, and that is why all of us-administrators, faculty, police, staff, counselors, and friends-must keep listening and responding to concerns.
 
As a university, we make every effort to safeguard our community. As we strive to uphold and advance safety on campus, a new presidential working group, co-chaired by Vice President Barbara Snyder and Associate General Counsel Michele Ballantyne, will make recommendations for how we can strengthen safety on our campus, convey intolerance for harassment in any form, emphasize the importance of consent, and support the needs of those who have experienced trauma.
 
The Office of the Dean of Students, the Counseling Center, the Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action/Title IX, and sexual assault victim advocates have already held four information sessions where students, faculty, and staff took the opportunity to ask questions and voice comments and concerns.
These kinds of forums will continue during spring semester and beyond.
 
We have also taken immediate action to improve the physical security of the campus. Cameras have been installed at the Merrill Engineering Building parking lot, adding to the roughly 1,500 security cameras that are currently in service around campus. We are replacing all broken lights and adding new ones in dark areas. We continue to look for ways to improve safety on our campus and welcome suggestions from all members of the university community.
 
For reference, here again are some of the many resources available for support and information:
Sexual assault victim advocates: 801-581-7779
Department of Public Safety (police): 801-585-COPS (2677)
University Counseling Center: 801-581-6826
Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action (Title IX Coordinator): 801-581-8365
Office of the Dean of Students: 801-581-7066
 

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