Campus police and local law enforcement officials in Virginia could be working together on sexual assault cases under a proposed sexual assault bill. As it stands now, sexual assaults on Virginia college campuses are the sole jurisdiction of campus police. Earlier this month, a House Bill introduced requires campus police to notify local law enforcement of alleged rapes and in cases of a medically unattended death.
The bill, called Kathryn’s Law, took its namesake from Kathryn Russell. Ms. Russell pressed charges in 2004 after an alleged rape at the University of Virginia. The school’s sexual misconduct board dismissed her allegations. The policy behind the bill is that sexual assault goes underreported on college campuses. If passed into law, the bill could change campus police’s investigation methods of rape and sexual assault.
Kathryn Russell was on-hand to speak in favor of the bill before the Virginia State Crime Commission last month. Under the bill, campus police have 24-hours to notify local authorities of a sexual assault complaint. Some local law enforcement commented that investigating campus assaults is often a matter of lack of money rather than poor cooperation between agencies.
We will keep you informed on the bill’s progress in the coming months. Do you know someone victimized by an assault on a college campus?
Approved by attorney Julie Heiden