Months after allegations surfaced accusing UNC of violating federal law when reporting sexual assaults, a Daily Tar Heel analysis reveals that the University’s 2010 sexual assault data is riddled with discrepancies.
The analysis raises questions about one year of sexual assault reporting — 2010 — that has been scrutinized since January, when former Assistant Dean of Students Melinda Manning accused the University of pressuring her to underreport sexual assault.
The University has emphatically denied Manning’s allegation, citing that the University Counsel’s office reported 23 forcible sex offenses to the federal government that year — seven more than the 16 forcible sex offenses Manning submitted.
But a DTH assessment of the 23 incidents reported in 2010 discovered discrepancies in how that number was compiled — calling into question the University’s vigilance in collecting statistics for a year that is now the subject of a federal investigation.
Sexual assault data is compiled and submitted to the U.S. Department of Education by the Office of University Counsel.
Initial discrepancies for 2010 data emerged from three University-produced documents, which revealed that conflicting data was produced for two reporting agencies.
Karen Moon, director of UNC News Services, said the conflicting sexual assault data reflects UNC’s evolving understanding about which incident reports were received by which reporting agency.
Moon said that though initial discrepancies existed among the agencies, it’s important that the total number of 23 forcible sex offenses, reported to the Department of Education, remained consistent.
Manning could not be reached for comment.
In February, the University provided the DTH with a breakdown of how the 23 forcible sex offenses were compiled in 2010, including what campus and community agencies submitted sexual assault data, as well as how many incidents each submitted.
The February breakdown detailed that the University received sexual assault data from four reporting agencies in 2010: the Division of Student Affairs, the Department of Public Safety, the Chapel Hill Police Department and UNC Hospitals.
Also in February, the University provided the DTH with a second document: an archived copy of the 2011 Campus Security Report. The report is a federally mandated document that logs crime statistics that happen on and around campus for the previous year.
A third University-produced document was used in the DTH’s analysis: an online version of the 2011 Campus Security Report.
Close examination of the three documents revealed discrepancies emerging from two agencies: Student Affairs and the Department of Public Safety.
The three documents offered three versions of the number of forcible sex offenses reported solely to Student Affairs in 2010:
? The February breakdown indicates that Student Affairs reported 16 total forcible sex offenses in 2010 — 11 of which were reported solely to Student Affairs and five of those were reported to both Student Affairs and the Department of Public Safety.
? The archived version of the 2011 Campus Security Report includes a footnote for forcible sex offenses, which says that eight incidents were reported solely to Student Affairs.
? The online version of the 2011 Campus Security Report includes a similar footnote for forcible sex offenses, but says that 14 incidents were reported solely to Student Affairs. The report provided no asterisk explaining why the change was made from the previous report.
Analysis of the February breakdown document also indicated discrepancies within the Department of Public Safety for 2010:
? The February breakdown indicates that 10 forcible sex offenses were reported to the Department of Public Safety.
? Randy Young, spokesman for the Department of Public Safety, said in an interview that nine forcible sex offenses in 2010 were reported to Public Safety.
The Daily Tar Heel addressed these discrepancies with Moon, who said the conflicting numbers were a result of inaccurate information collected from blind reporting forms — a resource that provides sexual assault survivors the option to report an incident of sexual assault without attaching their names to the report.
Blind reporting forms, submitted to Student Affairs, give survivors the option to provide information about whether their sexual assault was reported to law enforcement.
Moon said some blind reporting forms were filled out incorrectly — causing the numbers reported by each agency to be skewed.
Moon said questions raised by the DTH about discrepancies prompted the University to revisit the 2010 incident reports.
She provided a second, updated version of the February breakdown of the 2010 data — offering a fourth data set containing entirely new numbers:
? The updated breakdown indicates that Student Affairs still reported 16 total forcible sex offenses in 2010 — but instead, 12 were reported solely to the Office of Student affairs, and four were reported to both Student Affairs and the Department of Public Safety.
? The updated breakdown indicates that nine forcible sex offenses were reported to the Department of Public Safety.
Consistent with the February breakdown, the University’s updated 2010 breakdown included one forcible sex offense reported to UNC Hospitals and one forcible sex offense reported to the Chapel Hill Police Department.
Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Winston Crisp said it is likely that the discrepancies exist because of the different points in time in which the data was evaluated.
“The important thing in this situation is that we are consistently reporting 23,” Crisp said. “If these discrepancies meant that we weren’t getting that number every time, that would mean we don’t have a grip on the incidences.
“That isn’t the problem here,” he said.
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