A breakdown of recent ISU sexual assault cases


The university has reported five sexual assault cases in the fall 2022 semester.

The college experience is rife with different experiences for incoming students. The intertwining of new social environments, new homes and partying can lend positive experiences to students. The same factors, however, can lead to sexual assault.

According to data compiled from news shared by the Iowa State Daily, five sexual assaults have been reported at Iowa State University during the fall 2022 semester. This statistic follows the 12 sexual assaults reported in the fall of 2021 and two in the spring of 2022.

However, these numbers may not account for all sexual assaults, as victims sometimes choose not to disclose these occurrences to a person of authority.

“We still know that sexual assaults are one of the most underreported crimes that there is,” ISU Police Chief Michael Newton said.

Some victims of sexual assault question whether or not their story should be heard.

“[They think], ‘No one is going to believe me, I don’t have a voice, I don’t know who to talk to,’” Alissa Stoehr, assistant teaching professor for women’s and gender studies, said. “‘How did I start something? Am I to blame?’”

Stoehr specializes in many areas, including human trafficking, and has taught courses focused on human trafficking and gender justice.

“We have victims blaming themselves, and that’s why some of them don’t report,” Stoehr said.

Those who choose to report a sexual assault can do so in a variety of ways. As shared by Newton, individuals may present at the hospital or Thielen Student Health Center or call the police department. If an incident occurs in a residence hall, a victim may consult their resident assistant (RA).

“Any call that we get, the officer is going to respond and assess the situation and have a conversation,” Newton said. “No matter what happens, we’re going to activate our sexual assault response team.”

The ISU Police Department runs the Story Country Sexual Assault Response Team, which includes 15 nurses trained to complete sexual assault exams and partners with Assault Care Center Extending Shelter and Support (ACCESS) advocates who will provide additional support for victims.

Out of the 19 sexual assaults that have occurred within the Iowa State community since August 2021, 17 of those have been committed by an “acquaintance,” according to the university’s crime reports.

“Acquaintance” can be a difficult term to define, as individuals may interpret it differently.

“It’s really a person known to the victim,” Newton said. “Acquaintance is a tough one because what I find is people consider people acquaintances that they may have just met. In other cases, they’re people that [the victim] has known for a really long time.”

As a campus community, Iowa State has resources meant to prevent sexual assaults from taking place. Green Dot is a student organization aimed at educating the community about how to intervene as a bystander in situations where a sexual assault could potentially occur.

A course is also available through Canvas for ISU students to learn more about laws, personal safety measures and more.

“Anybody can be assaulted,” Stoehr said. “Anybody can be a perpetrator.”

As stated by Iowa State University’s Department of Public Safety, the federal Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act, more commonly referred to as the Clery Act, “requires all colleges and universities that participate in federal financial aid programs to keep and disclose information about crime on and near their respective campuses.”

With this act, colleges and universities are responsible for informing their students and faculty of potentially threatening crimes in a timely manner.

Additional resources put together by Newton and Senior Vice President for Student Affairs, Toyia Younger, can be accessed on the Office of Equal Opportunity’s website.

Editor’s note: This article was updated to clarify that the Iowa State University Police Department partners with ACCESS.