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District Attorney Responds To UMass Amherst Sexual Assault Allegations After Protests Outside Fraternity

AMHERST (CBS) -- The Northwestern District Attorney's office on Wednesday addressed allegations of sexual assault at UMass Amherst following a weekend protest at a fraternity.

A crowd of about 300 protested outside the Theta Chi fraternity house Sunday. Police were called when some threw objects at the house. The alleged sexual assault happened Saturday night at a party.

"It is the practice of the Northwestern District Attorney's Office to neither confirm nor deny investigations into alleged criminal matters," District Attorney David E. Sullivan's office said in a statement. "However, it cannot be overstated how seriously the Northwestern District Attorney's Office takes allegations of sexual assault, and how vigorously it investigates and prosecutes such cases."

According to The Daily Collegian, the anonymous allegations surfaced on social media platforms. UMass said in an email to students Monday that the university cannot take action against the alleged perpetrator or the fraternity because no survivor or witness has come forward to file a complaint, according to the student newspaper.

Sullivan said that while sexual assault investigations usually begin at the local police or campus police level, victims can report cases directly to the DA by meeting with specially trained prosecutors or advocates.

"The last thing in the world we want is for victims of sexual assault to feel they have no place safe to go for recourse," Sullivan said in a statement. "Prosecutors and victim witness advocates in our office have extensive training to help us all better understand the unique needs of, and therefore better respond to, survivors of sexual assault. We are deeply committed to employing a trauma-informed approach and ensuring victims are heard throughout the process."

The DA's office can be reached at 413-586-9225.

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