Roofie cases underreported

Sarah Brookbank

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In light of the Campus Attitudes Toward Safety survey’s results, which found that many students on campus are sexually assaulted after being slipped impairing substances, the Kentucky Kernel filed an open records request for all confirmed cases of intentional druggings using roofies reported to the UK Police Department.

UKPD returned two incidents, one in 2010 and the other in 2014.  

Any disciplinary action reported to the Dean of Student’s office was not released to the Kernel because of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act. Incidents reported solely to the Dean of Student’s office may outnumber the incidents reported to UKPD.

According to the survey, 16.8 percent of students believed they saw someone impaired by alcohol or drugs being led away for sex.

In the same survey 1,053 students said they were sexually assaulted. 

Rhonda Henry, director of the Violence Intervention and Protection Center, said two cases are low in comparison to what they see reported to them.

“Two cases in 10 years is a very, very low number, even if we are looking at their jurisdiction,” Henry said.

UKPD only has jurisdiction over campus and on-campus housing. 

Looking outside of UKPD’s jurisdiction, the Lexington Police Department’s Annual Report in 2013 and 2014 said they responded to more than 500 sexual assaults in that time.

Even though many UK students live outside of UKPD’s jurisdiction, based on data from their crime map from January 2014 to April 6, 2016, LPD responded to no sexual assaults within two miles of the administration building. This includes Newtown Crossing, Red Mile Village and Waller Avenue.

At the Office of Wellness Initiatives for Student Empowerment, director Drew Smith also said the number of suspected drugging incidents was low.

“The number of reports definitely does not reflect the actual number of incidents,” Smith said. “I believe that it’s more than two. But there (is) usually a difference between actual incidents and reporting. Sometimes people will suspect that they have been drugged, or a) they don’t want to report it or b) they think they drank too much.”

Of the 1,053 students who said they were sexually assaulted, only 16 reported it to UKPD. Most students who did not report said they did not do so because they wanted to forget the event happened.

“There can be a lot of embarrassment, shame and confusion,” Henry said. “A lot of people think they drank too much and it’s difficult for them to recall what happened. Drugs are a double-edged sword — they make it easier for a perpetrator in the moment, and it makes it difficult to report because they can’t put it in perspective.”

According to Smith, Rohypnol is not popular when looking at incidents where students have been drugged.

“Ketamine is more common around here and much more dangerous,” he said. “It has no taste and no color. It’s a horse tranquilizer… (But) the primary drug used for sexual assault is alcohol. That’s utilized more often than predatory drugs.”

GHB and Rohypnol can cause hallucinations, paralysis and memory loss. Those drugs also change the color and smell of a drink. Smith said alcohol is used more often in sexual assault cases because it is easy to access, and it is easy to convince someone to keep drinking. Henry said there is a stigma behind reporting sexual assault on campus, but UK has a medical amnesty policy, meaning victims and students will not be charged for recreational drug use or underage drinking in instances that require medical attention.

Henry said knowing one’s alcohol tolerance can help identify when something is wrong.

“A lot of new students may or may not have experience with alcohol or drugs. This is often their first time getting into that type of socialization. They don’t know their tolerance,” Henry said. “The red solo cup of beer is different than the red solo cup of punch.”

Both Smith and Henry advise students to take precautions. Precautions include knowing your limits, having a plan and friends you can trust.

“I really do believe that we are in a good and caring environment. Our students care about each other and see this as a community. We can forget that, especially in a party scene. It’s very difficult to be responsible when you’re drinking.” Smith said. “We are a community and if you see something and your gut doesn’t feel right, you need to intervene. It’s way better to have someone angry at you than to be a statistic.”