3 new proposed bills aim to change handling of college sex assaults

New proposed legislation aims to hold colleges and universities more accountable for on-campus sexual assaults. A campus sexual assault study by a White House task

A campus sexual assault study by a White

A campus sexual assault study by a White House task force says that one in five women will be sexually assaulted in their college years. (Credit: News 12 New Jersey)

MIDDLESEX COUNTY - New proposed legislation aims to hold colleges and universities more accountable for on-campus sexual assaults.

A campus sexual assault study by a White House task force says that one in five women will be sexually assaulted in their college years.
    
Sen. Peter Barnes wants to crack down on the way those assaults are handled. "There's an epidemic of sexual violence, not just in New Jersey but all across the country," he says.

Barnes is introducing a legislation package comprised of three bills. The first says schools must provide an advocate for all victims. The second is an annual public report on the number of sexual assaults. Finally, all cases must be reported to local police.

"We've seen and read about colleges sweeping sexual assault under the rug," Barnes says. "It should not be up to the school to determine whether or not the police should be notified."

At Rutgers, a program to provide an advocate for anyone reporting a sexual assault has been in place for almost 25 years.

"We're able to give them that support to take away some of the stigma, to support them," says Brady Root, from the Rutgers Violence Prevention and Victim Assistance Program. "If this is what you want to do, if you're here to report, here's what that will be like."  

It has been so successful that some schools are turning to Rutgers to replicate the program.

The bill requiring colleges to report to local police was introduced last month. The other two are planned for the next few weeks.

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