University of Utah reports more sexual assaults in 2017

SALT LAKE CITY -- The University of Utah submitted their annual security and fire report this week, detailing the statistics of crimes on campus compared to the year before. The school has to submit these crime statistics every year by October 1 in order to receive federal funding.

Making the University of Utah a safer place is the goal for campus police chief, Dale Brophy.

"We try to make it better every year," Brophy said.

In some ways, it is, according to the latest security report.

"Burglaries were down the most significant. They were down 50 percent. Our stalking went down again this year," Brophy said.

While burglaries and stalking reports were down this year, sexual assaults were up.

Thirty-two sexual assaults were reported to the University in 2017, compared to 23 in 2016. In 2017, 15 of those 32 were reported rapes, compared to 2016 where eight of the 23 were reported rapes.

Brophy acknowledged there were probably more than the numbers reflect.

"It's definitely an under reported crime," he said.

However, he believes this uptick indicates that sexual assault is easier to report, thanks to the launch of the Safe U website - not that more sexual assaults are happening.

"For any kind of safety activity on campus you can find it very easily. We’re hoping that’s working and that’s what has sent the numbers up this year," Brophy said

A first for the university this year, the police department ruled out some of the reported rapes as unfounded.

"This year we just had unusual circumstances where we had four reports that we were able to do a full investigation and unfound them," Brophy explained.

There was another unusual addition to the report this year: a homicide on campus.

Brophy referred to the murder Chen We Guo on campus in October of last year. Police say Austin Boutain shot and killed him during a botched car-jacking.

"We haven’t had to report one of those for over 10 years. We’re hoping to not have to report one of those again," Brophy said.

Each year and each report provides a learning experience for the department dedicated to the keeping the University of Utah safe.

"Every incident we have, whether it’s an uptick or whether we go down, we evaluate what we did last year and try to improve for the next year," Brophy said.