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House of Representatives
Session of 2017 - 2018 Regular Session


Posted: March 20, 2017 03:29 PM
From: Representative Thomas R. Caltagirone
To: All House members
Subject: Sexual Assault Notation on College Transcripts
In the near future, I plan to reintroduce HB 1203 from last session. This legislation would require colleges and universities within the Commonwealth to indicate on student transcripts when a student has been suspended, expelled or withdraws while an investigation is pending into whether the student committed a sexual assault. Currently, there is no federal law requiring schools to note such sanctions on a student's transcript, and colleges are not required to ask applicants if they have ever been punished for committing sexual assault. However, California and Maryland have proposed legislation that would mandate transcripts include sexual violence offenses, and Virginia is on the brink of enacting such a law. I think we should join these states and take the lead in making our college campuses safe.

The most notable recent example of the attack-and-escape pattern of sexual predators on college campuses is the case Jesse Matthew Jr. Matthew was recently indicted for murder, abduction, and sexual assault of Hannah Graham, a University of Virginia sophomore. Unfortunately, this was not the first time Matthew was suspected of sexual assault -- it’s the fourth, authorities said. Matthew was accused of sexual assault while at Liberty University in 2002 but transferred to Christopher Newport University before Liberty could adjudicated the case. Just nine months after transferring to Christopher Newport University he left there after being accused of sexual assault again. Yet, it took him murdering a victim before he was caught and put behind bars.

Unfortunately, this scenario seems to be common with accused college rapists slipping away before they are held accountable. For example, Brandon Austin was suspended from the basketball team at Providence College in Rhode Island in the fall of 2013 for an alleged sexual assault, but transferred to the University of Oregon in January before prosecutors decided whether to press charges. At Oregon he was then accused of gang rape and suspended. But his third school, Northwest Florida State College, welcomed him with a scholarship that July. Closer to home at Swarthmore College, Hope Brinn was bracing for more than a month for a disciplinary hearing with the male student that she and two others had accused of sexual assault. Ten days before the hearing, Brinn got a call from the College informing her that the student had withdrawn and the matter was over. His transcript would never say that he was accused of sexual assault and withdrew from school before a final determination. Brinn later found out that the student had enrolled at the Arizona State University. “In some ways I was relieved he was all the way across the country,” Brinn told the media. “In other ways, I think he's a serial predator -- what's going to stop him from doing this again?”

The problem is colleges and university’s lack personal jurisdiction over student that simply withdraw from school to avoid availing themselves to the college court system. At this point colleges and universities have no recourse if a student simply leaves school. I want to close this gap that allows some really bad people to slip away from justice. For more information on this issue please visit the Association for Student Conduct Administration’s website at http://www.theasca.org/best_practices. The ASCA is a professional trade group, who has been calling for schools to add notations about sexual assault sanctions on transcripts. Please join me in this common sense step to make sure sexual predators are not lurking on our college campuses.

Introduced as HB1440