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Report: Campus Sex Crimes Rarely Prosecuted As Felonies

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(Credit: Adam Jan/AFP/Getty Images)

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CHICAGO (CBS) — A new report is shedding light on the prosecution of sex crimes on Chicago area college campuses.

As WBBM Newsradio’s John Waelti reports, the Chicago Tribune examined 16 area colleges and universities, where police have investigated more than 100 reported sex crimes since 2005.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s John Waelti reports

Of those, only 12 resulted in arrests, and five in convictions. In a number of cases, potential felonies were downgraded to misdemeanors.

For one example, an 18-year-old female freshman at Chicago State University reported last year that she was attacked by a fellow student whose advances she had just rejected. A suspect was arrested, but a prosecutor declined to charge him with felony sexual assault and instead chose misdemeanor battery, even though the facts seem to describe a rape, the Tribune reported.

In that case, the Tribune reports, prosecutors did not file felony charges due to “inconsistencies in the evidence,” but those inconsistencies did not stop them from prosecuting the suspect, Lazzarick Chambers, on a misdemeanor charge of anally penetrating the victim “without consent.”

In another case two years ago, prosecutors decided not to pursue a felony charge when a student allegedly raped his ex-girlfriend in her University of Illinois at Chicago dorm room, because there was no struggle and the two had been in a relationship before, the Tribune reported. The woman decided not to pursue misdemeanor charges, and thus, the alleged offender was not charged at all, the newspaper reported.

While the trend is alarming to victims’ rights advocates, Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez is defending her office’s handling of the cases.

She tells the Tribune that every case is carefully reviewed, but sex crimes are among the most challenging to prosecute.