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somewhere in America, someone is sexually assulted

2000 National Crime Victimization Survey. Bureau of Justice Statistics, U.S. Department of Justice.
St Cloud State University | Women's Center
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Women's Center: Gender Violence Prevention Program

Legal and Reporting Options


A victim may report a sexual assault at any time, but is strongly encouraged to make reports promptly in order to preserve evidence for a potential legal or disciplinary proceeding. Victims should not be discouraged from reporting a sexual assault if it is after 72 hours or weeks, months, or in some cases even years later. You will not know the merits of the case until after a trained officer investigates.

Victims can report to the university if the sexual assault occurs on or off campus. Victims can report to the university and/or law enforcement – either to one or both.

Report to the law enforcement agency in the city/county in which the assault took place. Please note that an advocate can assist you through the reporting process and even be present in the room while the officer takes the statement.

Call an advocate

An advocate can discuss all your options, provide information on your rights, support you through a reporting process, help you file a protective order, accompany you to court, assist in a student conduct code complaint and provide emotional support and counseling. Their training is focused specifically on assisting survivors of sexual violence.

  • Call the Women’s Center and ask for a Sexual Assault Advocate 320.308.4958 (8:00a.m. – 4:30p.m.)
  • Call the Central Minnesota Sexual Assault Center 320.251.4357 1.800.237.5090 (24 hours a day)

St. Cloud Police Department

If the assault took place in the city of St. Cloud, report to the St. Cloud Police Department by calling 320.251.1200.

Blind Reports

At the St. Cloud Police Department (and at some other law enforcement agencies), victims can make a blind report. A blind report means the victim provides law enforcement with information about the sexual assault and the perpetrator, but does not wish to participate in the prosecution of the crime at this time. Victims must contact an advocate from the Women’s Center or Central MN Sexual Assault Center for this option.

On Campus: SCSU Public Safety

Victims can report a sexual assault to the Public Safety Department by calling 320.308.3333. They can document what happened, which may be helpful if you are unsure if you want to report to law enforcement at this time, or if you file a student conduct code violation complaint on campus. It is important to know that Public Safety reports in most cases are sent to Student Life and Development for review of a conduct code violation and are not confidential.

On Campus: Filing a complaint

If the offender is also a student, you as the victim/survivor also have the right to file a student conduct code complaint with the university. You can report the assault to Student Life and Development or to the Office of Equity and Affirmative Action. A Women’s Center advocate from the Gender Violence Prevention Program can assist you in determining the appropriate reporting offices.


Different people on campus have different reporting responsibilities, and different abilities to maintain your confidentiality depending on their roles at the university. When consulting campus resources, victims should be aware of confidentiality and mandated reporting in order to make informed choices. On campus, some resources may maintain your complete confidentiality, offering you options and advice without any obligation to tell anyone, unless you want them to. Other resources are expressly there for you to report crimes and policy violations, and they will take action when you report your victimization to them.

If you want to speak to someone on campus and have it kept private and confidential, you should speak with an advocate at the University Women’s Center’s Gender Violence Prevention Program. Other places you can go on campus for private or confidential services are the Counseling Center and Health Services. If you want to speak to someone off campus, call the Central Minnesota Sexual Assault Center at 320.251.4357.

You can report to the university and request confidentiality and ask to not have the complaint pursued. However, the school legally needs to take all reasonable steps to investigate and respond. The university’s ability to respond may be very limited when a victim requests that the information not be disclosed to the alleged perpetrator.

The university has to weigh the request for confidentiality with the seriousness of the alleged sexual assault. If there are other complaints against the same accused student, for example, and the school can’t maintain confidentiality, the university must inform you, the complainant.

Mandated Reporting and Reporting Obligations

Certain campus officials have a duty to report sexual violence for federal statistical reporting purposes. All personally identifiable information is kept confidential, and only statistical information is passed along to Public Safety regarding the type of incident and its general location (on or off campus, in the surrounding area, but no addresses are given. This statistical information is used for publication in the annual Campus Security Report. Women’s Center Advocates also report only statistical information to Public Safety.

Victims of sexual assault should be aware that university administrators must issue timely warnings for incidents reported to them that pose a substantial threat of bodily harm or danger to members of the campus community. The university will not disclose the victim’s name or other identifying information. The purpose of these warnings is to provide enough information for community members to make safety decisions in light of the potential danger.


You always have the right to report the crime to law enforcement. Know that it is your right to choose not to report the crime, but consider talking with an advocate to discuss the pros and cons before reaching a final decision. It is not uncommon for victims of sexual violence to feel differently about reporting as they progress through the healing process.

If you are having difficulty deciding to report criminally or not, a sexual assault advocate can guide you through a process that will help you make a decision that is best for you.


If you decide to report the assault to law enforcement, reports need to be made in the jurisdiction where the crime occurred. For example, if you are a student living on campus and you were sexually assaulted in Saint Cloud, then you would report to the Saint Cloud Police Department. If you were assaulted in Waite Park, then you would need to report to the Waite Park Police Department. If the assault occurred outside of a city, you would report to a county sheriff’s office. If you are unsure where to report, you can call any law enforcement agency and tell them where the crime took place and ask where you should report.

After you have contacted law enforcement, an officer will arrive to discuss the various aspects of the criminal investigation with you. If you choose to proceed, the officer will need to take a formal statement to record the details of the crime. You can request that your advocate be with you while you are giving your statement. Your statement is the first of several steps in an investigation.

The officers are not there to judge you. They are there to obtain information about the crime: the date and the time of the occurrence, location, description of the suspect, etc. You will also be asked about your activities before and after the assault. They will also ask questions about specific details of the sexual acts that were forced upon you to determine what crimes can possibly be charged. You may feel embarrassed, but remember it is not you who did these things, but the assailant.

The information you provide is the basis of a legal proceeding and must be accurate. You have the right to read over everything the law enforcement officers write on forms and ask them to correct any misinformation. Once your report is transcribed, you can get a copy by calling the records division of the law enforcement agency. This only applies to the information which you have provided; you cannot see information or testimony someone else has given. Be certain to get the names, badge numbers, and telephone numbers of officers.

You must be truthful in each statement you make in any law enforcement or judicial proceeding. Inaccurate or incorrect information may cause law enforcement to follow false leads. If you are not certain of something, be sure to say so. If you do not know something exactly, describe it as accurately as possible. If you remember something later that you may not have told the law enforcement officers, call them with the information. Also, if you remember details a little differently later on; make sure to clarify this with law enforcement.


If you choose to access the criminal, civil and/or campus reporting systems there are a few things that you should know before proceeding. Each process moves forward on its own. An advocate can assist in coordinating actions so that these processes do not hinder each other from moving forward and maximizing an outcome.

For example, if Sally is assaulted and chooses to report to police and file for an order for protection, she should consider letting the law enforcement officer conduct the investigation before she files for the protective order. This way law enforcement will be able to interview the offender before he/she is served with a protective order. If safety is an immediate concern the victim may wish to discuss filing the protective order with the investigating officer.


This process begins with a report to local law enforcement. Your statement is the first of several steps in an investigation. The officer may interview the suspect and collect the evidence at the scene, etc. When law enforcement completes an investigation, the case is sent to the county attorney’s office. The county attorney will decide if there is enough evidence to charge and prosecute the case.

If the county attorney decides to charge the case, there are several court appearances the accused will have to attend before a trial, but in most cases the victim will not be required to attend. You can choose to go and watch the proceedings in open court or can ask your advocate to attend. If the case goes to a trial, the victim witness advocate or another representative from the county attorney’s office will contact you to prepare you for trial.

In court, it will not be you vs. the rapist. Your role is as a witness. The “State of Minnesota” prosecutes the suspect because the suspect is charged with committing a criminal act under the Minnesota state statutes. The attorney prosecuting the case against the suspect is an Assistant County Attorney.

The preliminary hearing is generally a short process in which only the basic details of the crime are disclosed. What must be established is that the assault occurred and that there is reason to believe that this suspect did it without your free consent. Between the first appearance and the actual trial, many delays may occur. It may take many months before a case gets to a trial stage. This is not uncommon. Very few cases actually go to jury trial. In some cases defendants “plead” before a trial.

If a trial occurs, the case is decided by a judge or a jury based upon witnesses’ testimony and the physical evidence. To be convicted the defendant must be found guilty “beyond a reasonable doubt.” Because such a decision is being made, the defense attorney has the right to ask you questions. If the suspect is found guilty, a sentencing hearing will be scheduled. This is an open, public hearing you may want to attend.

In an effort to feel more comfortable in the courtroom and to have a better understanding of the criminal proceedings, you may wish to contact the County Attorney, Victim/Witness Coordinator, your advocate, or your counselor.

Usual order of events in a criminal court proceeding:

  • You file a criminal report with law enforcement.
  • Law enforcement investigates and then presents the case to the County Attorney.
  • You may be interviewed by the County Attorney’s Office.
  • The County Attorney decides whether there is enough admissible evidence to present the case to a jury.
  • If indicted and if suspect pleads not guilty, several hearings will be set which the suspect must attend. You can be subpoenaed to appear at these hearings.
  • Trial (you are required to attend as a witness).
  • Acquittal or sentencing.
  • If sentenced, a sentencing date will be set. You may be called by a corrections officer as part of a pre-sentencing investigation.


Civil processes can include protective orders (Harassment Restraining Orders, Orders for Protection) or civil lawsuits (suing the perpetrator for damages). If you want to pursue obtaining a Harassment Restraining Order (HRO) or Order for Protection (OFP), an advocate can assist you through this process. To pursue civil lawsuits you will have to retain your own attorney or go to Small Claims Court.

If you’re thinking about getting a protective order:

An Order for Protection (OFP) or a Harassment Restraining Order (HRO) are civil court protective orders that are designed to stop an abuser from continuing acts of violence, threatening, harassing, or stalking behaviors. If you are in fear for your safety you might want to consider filing for an Order for Protection or Harassment Restraining Order.

Contact an advocate from the Women’s Center’s Gender Violence Prevention Program to determine which protective order you may be eligible for and assistance in completing the forms and filing the order in the correct jurisdiction.

As a student, you may want to write specific requests in the order dealing with contact on campus and in classes. In some instances, the campus can issue its own ‘no contact’ letter to the accused. Your advocate can assist you with this.


This process is applicable in cases involving reported sexual violence by a SCSU student, employee, or volunteer — whether the assault takes place on or off campus. A sexual assault advocate at the Women’s Center can assist in determining the appropriate reporting offices.

The level of proof on campus is not ‘beyond a reasonable doubt’ as in the criminal court system, but instead is ‘preponderance of evidence.’ This is defined as a standard of responsibility that it is more likely than not that a violation has occurred. If an accused student is found responsible, sanctions can include probation, suspension or expulsion.


Many survivors of violent crimes, especially survivors of sexual assault, experience emotional shock. At this time it is important for you to know that victims can become survivors. Part of this process is making every attempt you can to take control of your life again and being certain that you are receiving the care, information and rights to which you are entitled. By exercising your rights you are, in effect, taking charge again. As a victim of crime, Minnesota law provides you with specific rights, including the right to be notified, the right to participate in prosecution, and the right to apply for financial assistance. Domestic violence, sexual assault, and harassment victims have additional rights. A complete list can be found at https://dps. mn.gov/divisions/ojp/help-for-crime-victims/Pages/crime-victims-rights.aspx or by contacting your advocate.


The United States Congress enacted the “Campus Sexual Assault Victims’ Bill of Rights” in 1992 as a part of the Higher Education Amendments of 1992. This law requires that all colleges and universities (both public and private) participating in federal student aid programs afford sexual assault victims certain basic rights. It also requires the school to notify victims of their option to report their assault to the proper law enforcement authorities.

The “Campus Sexual Assault Victims’ Bill of Rights” exists as a part of the campus security reporting requirements, commonly known as the Jeanne Clery Act, of the federal law that establishes all student aid programs, the Higher Education Act of 1965. This bill of rights can be found at http://www.securityoncampus.org/how-file-campus-sexual-assaultvictims% E2%80%99-bill-rights-clery-act-complaint or by contacting your advocate.

SCSU Bill of Rights for Victims of Sexual Assault

SCSU has a bill of rights specific to this campus regarding sexual assault victims. A victim is any person who encounters emotional and/or physical harm or loss as a result of unwanted sexual contact.

A victim/survivor of sexual assault has the right to:

  • Privacy and the treatment of sensitive information in a confidential manner.
  • Be treated with dignity and receive nonjudgmental assistance.
  • Meaningful support and advocacy from campus organizations and agencies. The university recognizes that institutional support for victims is essential.
  • The prompt assistance of campus authorities, at the request of the victim, in notifying the appropriate law enforcement officials and disciplinary authorities of a sexual assault incident.
  • The complete and prompt assistance of campus authorities, in the direction of law enforcement authorities, in obtaining, securing, and maintaining evidence in connection with a sexual assault incident.
  • An investigation and resolution by campus disciplinary authorities of a sexual assault report.
  • Choose the level of participation in university disciplinary proceedings against an assailant, including the right to an advocate or victim’s attorney.
  • Privacy of past sexual/relationship history during campus judicial proceedings.
  • Notification of the outcome of any campus disciplinary proceedings concerning a sexual assault complaint, consistent with the laws relating to data practices.
  • Assistance of campus authorities in preserving materials relevant to a campus disciplinary proceeding for a sexual assault complaint or victim.
  • File for reparations and know the release status from the pretrial detention of the accused assailant.
  • Assistance of campus personnel in shielding the victim, at her/his request, from unwanted contact with the alleged perpetrator, including housing and class transfers, if such transfers are feasible.


The US Department of Education Office for Civil Rights enforces several Federal civil rights laws that prohibit discrimination in programs or activities that receive Federal funds, which includes most colleges and universities in the U.S. If you feel that your rights have been violated, report this violation to the Department of Education. More information can also be found at http://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/docs/howto.pdf.

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