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Amid Stanford sex assault furor, new light being shed on campus rapes

An analysis done by The Washington Post of federal campus crime data shows almost 100 colleges and universities with at least 10 reports of rape on their main campuses in 2014 -- a trend experts interviewed by the newspaper say could actually be encouraging.

The Post's numbers crunching shows Brown University and the University of Connecticut tied for the highest annual number of reports of rape -- 43 each. While Stanford University ranked 10th on the list.

Stanford has been in the spotlight in recent days as former Stanford swimmer Brock Turner was sentenced to six months in jail and three years probation for sexually assaulting a woman outside a frat party in 2015. The light sentence provoked public outrage and calls for the judge's ouster.

According to the data provided by the Department of Education's Campus Safety and Security, in 2014, Stanford University had 26 rapes reported on campus. While Brown University had 43 rapes reported on campus, Yale University had 13, Cornell University had 12, and Baylor University had four.

But, the Post notes, "The data reflect what victim advocates say is a positive trend: Growing numbers of students who may have experienced a sexual assault are stepping forward to tell authorities about incidents that in years past might have gone unreported."

"The fact that 43 incidents were reported indicates that we are building trust among our campus community members in how the university responds to reported incidents of sexual and gender-based violence," the Post quotes Brown spokesman Brian E. Clark as saying in an email.

Brock Turner begins controversial sentence

The newspaper says U-Conn. spokeswoman Stephanie Reitz observed the school "works very hard to cultivate a culture of forthrightness so this traditionally under-reported crime can be addressed and our students receive appropriate services and support."

The data analyzed by the Post also came from the U.S. Department of Education website.

And the Post points out that, "Having a low number of rape reports is not necessarily a sign that all is well. Baylor's governing board last month demoted the school's president, Kenneth Starr, and fired its football coach following an investigation that found the school had failed to respond effectively to reports of sexual assault involving football players and others."

Lisa Maatz, vice president for government relations at the American Association of University Women, remarked to the Post that, "Universities need to stop trying to treat this as a PR problem, and treat it as the civil rights and public safety issue that it is. It's happening on their campuses, undeniably. There's no use putting their heads in the sand."

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