UC Davis Over-Reports Sexual Offenses by 140%

DAVIS, Calif.

On the day universities needed to submit their annual security reports to the U.S. Department of Education, University of California, Davis, officials said they had substantially over-reported the number of forcible sexual crimes on and around campus for three consecutive years.

On average from 2005 to 2007, the university over-reported forced sexual offenses by 140 percent. The number of actual forced sexual offenses was 77, which was 108 less than the 185 incidents claimed in those three years.

One of the nation’s foremost Clery Act experts called the announcement unprecedented.

“We have never seen anything like that before,” said S. Daniel Carter, senior vice president of Security on Campus, a nonprofit Clery advocate. “It is extraordinarily uncommon and, at that level, completely unprecedented.”

At a West Coast Oct. 1 morning press conference, UC Davis Police Chief Annette Spicuzza and others said the data submitted for 2005, 2006 and 2007 has now been revised. The school had notified the DOE and Department of Justice, and underwent a review overseen by Dolores Stafford, past president of IACLEA.

For 2005, 2006 and 2007, the university reported 48, 68 and 69 forcible sexual offenses. The correct numbers are 21, 23 and 33.

Based on the internal and external reviews, the university determined that the former director of its Campus Violence Prevention Program (CVPP), Jennifer Beeman, was responsible for the inflated numbers. The reviews were launched in April, after another member of the violence prevention program’s staff raised concerns about the statistics to the UC Davis Police Department, which oversees the program.

Prior to the discovery of the Clery reporting irregularities, Beeman was placed on administrative leave with pay on Dec. 11, 2008, in connection with allegations that she improperly charged travel expenses to a federal grant.

At some point shortly after Dec. 11, 2008, UC Davis changed her leave from administrative leave to medical leave, and made that retroactive to Dec. 11. She remained on medical leave until June 9, 2009, her last day of employment. Beeman had been the CVPP director for 16 years.

A different audit conducted by UC Davis Internal Audit Services substantiated several charges against Beeman. It concluded that she had been reimbursed twice for travel expenses, had claimed reimbursement for hotel expenses that exceeded the expenses incurred and had been reimbursed for mileage to attend meetings that records showed she did not attend. The audit covered travel claims that Beeman filed between July 1, 2005, and July 30, 2008.

In all, Beeman reimbursed UC Davis $1,372, and the investigation was closed. But those substantiated findings led UC Davis to launch a second investigation. The subject matter and details of that investigation cannot be disclosed because the investigation is ongoing.

UC Davis officials pledged to provide better oversight of the school’s CVPP. Previously, Beeman did not have anyone reviewing her work.

The university is the lead UC campus on a nearly $1 million Justice Department grant aimed at enhancing services for crime victims and coordinating a UC system-wide response to violence on all UC campuses. It submits the data for grant eligibility.

Each Clery Act violation could bring a $27,500 fine, which makes UC Davis eligible for a penalty of $2.97 million. The DOE will determine whether to impose the fine.

The University of West Virginia has also come under scrutiny for misreporting crime statistics. The university underwent a four-year program review that resulted in the DOE announcing the school violated the Clery Act in 2001 and 2002 by mislabeling some campus crimes, underreporting others, and failing to include crimes reported to other agencies.

Misreported crime data is a signal that the schools need better internal checks and balances, Carter said.

“As with the University of West Virginia, [the UC Davis story] demonstrates the need for checks and balances to make sure things aren’t being excluded or over-reported,” Carter said. “Bad policies usually lead to bad results.”

Despite the Clery reporting irregularities and other investigations related to Beeman, campus officials told reporters that the school is still very committed to the CVPP.

“UC Davis has always been a safe college campus, and our Campus Violence Prevention Program has always been a tremendous asset to victims of violent crime,” Spicuzza said. “Today’s announcement about the Clery Act statistics doesn’t change any of that.”

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