October 2, 2012

Sun Corrects Story on Sexual Crime Surge

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A news article in The Sun Friday provided an inaccurate representation of Police Chief Kathy Zoner’s response to the recent string of reported sexual crimes on and around campus.

The story, titled “Cornell Police: Sexual Crimes Surge Is Result of Increase in Reporting,” stated that Zoner believes the series of recent sexual assaults this semester “does not reflect an upswing in the occurrence of sexual crimes but rather an increase in the number of victims who have reported them.” There were two major factual inaccuracies in this sentence, which became the premise of the story, its headline and subsequent columns published in The Sun.

For one, Zoner was not speaking solely about the recent sexual crimes reported this semester because she believed she was being questioned about crime statistics over a year-long period. More importantly, Zoner did not say, as quoted, that there has been no actual increase in sexual crimes. In saying that more people are reporting sexual crimes, Zoner was referring to a recent Justice Department survey that indicated that 13-percent more victims of sexual assault are reporting these crimes than they did in 1996.

Zoner said this statement had no direct reference to the sexual assaults reported this semester and was not meant to imply that there has been no upswing in recent sexual assaults reported on our campus.

“As a result of these errors, the article implies that Cornell University Police are complacent, leaving Cornellians to protect themselves,” Zoner said. “But as I explained … we also take each case seriously; we have good leads and are actively investigating them. We expanded nighttime patrols. We are meeting with concerned community members in groups and individually, surveying lighting with community input and researching placement of additional deterrence and investigative technology such as cameras and access control. Your readers should know all of this. If nothing else, it may restore some peace of mind.”