Sheriff’s Department Investigates Allegations of Rape on the College of the Redwoods Campus
The Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office is investigating allegations of rape on the College of the Redwoods campus. One week ago, at 12:32 p.m. on Thursday, March 24, a report was made alleging that an individual had been sexually assaulted on campus. At this point, Selena Zorrilla-Mendoza of the Sheriff’s Office is only confirming that they are investigating the situation but will not release any more information.
College of the Redwoods is aware of the situation. “We’re taking this report extremely seriously,” said Marty Coelho, Executive Director of College Advancement at CR. “An investigation is underway.”
But neither the Sheriff’s Office nor the College is willing to comment about whether the alleged incident was reported as a stranger encounter or as an assault by someone who was known to the victim.
Statistically it is most likely the victim was female and knew her alleged attacker. According to statistics (see here for source), “91% of the victims of rape and sexual assault are female, and 9% are male” and eight out of ten victims know their attacker.
Speaking generally and not about this specific case, MaryAnne Hayes Mariani of the North Coast Rape Crisis Team believes that in our small area most people know the person that assaulted them. “In our community 90 to 95% of people know their assaulter,” she said. “We live in this small rural community and most people know each other and that’s an additional hurdle for a survivor to name their perpetrator…Because in our rape culture they know they will be judged.”
Mariani said that last year, in 2015, “[W]e provided services to 356 survivors of sexual assault. This includes all ages and all genders.” And this might represent only a fraction of the people actually attacked. “We responded to 1,203 calls on our crisis line last year,” she stated in an email. This might include people attacked previously or might include multiple calls by the same victims.
The numbers of victims dealt with by the Rape Crisis Team are much larger than those reported through legal channels. For instance, Humboldt County reported 14 rapes in 2014. (The latest year that rape statistics are available in the FBI crime report.)
Two of those rapes are alleged to have occurred at Humboldt State University. Statistics for the College of the Redwoods was not available on the FBI site. Nonetheless, rape on college campuses is a major problem. “One in 5 women and one in 16 men are sexually assaulted while in college,” according to information provided by the National Sexual Violence Resource Center.
Marty Coelho said that College of the Redwoods tries very hard to provide a secure environment. “We are always reviewing safety practices,” he said.
Mariani of the North Coast Rape Crisis Team urges victims to reach out to her organization. “For we are here to believe, listen and support and not judge,” she said.