Police chief’s comments on false sexual assault reports enrage students

In response, all sworn personnel, including the chief, will be required to receive additional training to handle assault reports

By Jeniffer Solis | November 22, 2017

UNLV Police Chief José Elique told students at a town hall on campus safety last Thursday to not file “false police reports” about sexual assault after sharing a story of a false rape allegation against a UNLV football player who lived in the dorms.


“I will tell you in the time I’ve been here that there have been a couple of occasions where female students in this case have reported that they have been raped and what it turned out to be, after we investigated it, was that it was not only consensual but that the act was initiated by that woman,” Elique said.


“It’s the regret the night after or the day after that some people have and they report it. You can not file a false police report,” he said before adding that filing a false police report is a misdemeanor that could be prosecuted or fined.

UNLV Police Chief Jose A. Elique (left) and Student Body President Chris Roys (right) speak to students at CSUN’s campus safety town hall. Photo by: Yvan Sanchez/UNLV Scarlet & Gray Free Press

Elique’s comments did not sit well with many students, including UNLV CARE Advocates, a campus group that works with the Jean Nidetch Women’s Center to help individuals who have experienced sexual assault or violence and abuse.


“The UNLV PD is supposed to be here to protect us and campaign for us as students when crimes on campus happen. We no longer feel that way,” Jovanah Watkin’s, UNLV CARE Advocates president, wrote in an email to the Free Press. “After recent incidents over the past few months, the PD hasn’t been that helpful with keeping our campus safe, we now know that the chief doesn’t take sexual assault seriously, especially on our campus, and that’s disheartening.”


Eligue has since apologized to the Women’s Center for his comments and has offered to meet with them to further discuss the matter, according to Hobreigh Fischer, a spokesman for UNLV Police Services.


“Additionally, Chief Elique has directed his staff to work with the Women’s Center to have all sworn personnel, including himself, receive further training in handling the needs of individuals who report sexual assaults,” Fischer said.


Student and Staff Response


Immediately after the town hall, UNLV CARE Advocates started a letter writing campaign in support of victims of sexual assault.

Watkins said the CARE Advocates started the letter writing campaign to UNLV President Len Jessup and Vice President of Student Affairs Juanita Fain to let them know how not only the group felt about the situation, but how other students on campus felt as well.


Some students took to social media to express their disappointment on how the topic of sexual assault was handled by Elique during the town hall.


“His time at a meeting about safety should not be spent perpetuating the idea that survivors are liars and how important it is to not ‘false report.’ This is a failure on CSUN, on UNLV and the campus police,” Hannah Helmly, a UNLV student, wrote on Facebook.


Celeste Gonzalez, a CARE advocate for the Women’s Center, said the letter writing campaign is not only a way for students to bring attention to the issue of sexual assault being treated as a false allegation but to also come together as a community to deal with any negative effects Elique’s comments may have had.


Reporting Assault and Rape


In June, Gonzalez said she reported a sexual assault on campus to UNLV Police Services. An officer that responded told her it was the first time during his career that he actually heard of it happening on campus.


Five incidents of rape were reported to UNLV Police Services in 2016, three on campus and two in residential facilities. In 2015, six rape incidents were reported on campus, while another six were reported in residential facilities.


“When I heard him go on about that story, and about how sexual assault doesn’t happen, I was so enraged,” Gonzalez said, “This literally just happened a few months ago and as the chief of police, I’m sure he was aware of it.”


While Elique said that during his time at UNLV there haven’t been “too many reports of sexual assault crimes on campus,” Ashley Yuill, the advocacy program manager for the Women’s Center who also spoke at the town hall, said the actual number of incidents are likely much higher.


Fewer than five percent of rape victims report to police on college campuses, though about 65 percent of victims do tell someone other than the police, according to the Women’s Center website. Yuill says that the rate of false reporting for sexual assault is the same for other crimes at about two to four percent, about the same rate as false reports on stolen vehicles.


“Survivors are not reporting and often times the reason is because of the fear of not being believed,” Yuill said. “Our stance is that we are a survivor center and we will believe you and we will work with you and we will empower you to feel like you have a voice.”

Read UNLV’s 2017 Annual Crime Report here:https://www.unlv.edu/sites/default/files/page_files/27/Police-2017-AnnualSecurityReport.pdf

To learn more about the Jean Nidetch Women’s Center, visit their website. To contact CARE Advocates for support, call their 24-hour line at 702-895-0602.

Tags assigned to this article:
crimepolicerapesexual assaultUNLV Police

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1 comment

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  1. ThirteenthLetter
    ThirteenthLetter 4 December, 2017, 23:56

    Except, uh, you know, he was right? Filing a false report is illegal, and there have been false rape accusations. Because a bunch of fragile students freaked out about it doesn’t make it not true. It’s unfortunate that he caved to the mob, but that’s how it goes these days, I guess.

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