The University of North Texas reported it investigated four cases of statutory rape in a data report for all crime that happened on campus in 2018.
A 16-year-old girl was the victim in all four reports, where students who interacted with her did not know she was underage, said Leigh Anne Gullett, a spokeswoman for the university.
The girl met a student on an online dating application and stayed in his residence hall during July 8-15 last year, she said. When school officials were alerted to the girl being on campus, it spurred an investigation into four cases of statutory rape.
During the course of the investigation, officers found two other men connected to the girl, Gullett said. Police consulted with the Denton County District Attorney’s Office, and no charges were filed against the UNT students because of a close-in-age exception that allows someone to have sex with someone under 17 as long as the other party is no more than three years older than the minor.
Every fall, colleges and universities must report crimes on or near campus and information on fire safety to comply with the federal Clery Act.
In 2017, there were no reports of statutory rape on campus, and one in 2016. Aside from the statutory rape cases, most of the data collected at UNT reported steady rates in other crimes, and drops in alcohol and drug offenses compared to 2017.
For major crimes, UNT said that in 2018 there were 11 reported rapes, four reported statutory rapes, five reported incidents of fondling, 13 incidents of dating violence and one report of domestic violence. There were three aggravated assaults, one robbery and seven reports of stalking.
The numbers are what’s to be expected for a campus with more than 39,000 students, said Ed Reynolds, UNT chief of police.
“If you’re looking at a college’s crime statistics to try to make a decision on what the safest university is and if you look at statistics and look at a campus our size — that’s 39,000 students and residential — and see no crimes, that causes more concern than these [figures],” he said.
At the Denton campus of Texas Woman’s University in 2018, there were two reported rapes, no statutory rapes, one reported incident of fondling, two incidents of dating violence and eight reports of stalking. There were also two aggravated assaults and one burglary reported.
Samuel Garrison, TWU’s police chief, said the consistently low numbers this year show that TWU’s programs and policies work.
“I think that what we’re doing on campus with crime prevention programs and with student life and housing, we’ve maintained a safe campus,” he said. “When everyone is involved, the campus is much safer.”
There were no reported incidents at any of the Denton County campuses of North Central Texas College, according to the report.