sexual assault

Marisa Demarco / KUNM

All around the country, states are trying to address a mounting number of untested sexual assault evidence kits. And even though New Mexico’s budget is tight, the Legislature found $1.6 million to work through the backlog here. At a meeting in Albuquerque on Monday, stakeholders gathered to talk about what’s next.

Right after the federal Department of Justice released a lengthy report slamming the University of New Mexico for mishandling sexual assault cases, UNM President Robert Frank held a news conference and questioned the investigators’ methods. KUNM's Marisa Demarco sat down with Frank to find out how seriously UNM’s president takes the federal criticism.

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The Department of Justice has scrutinized just two universities in the country about campus assault and harassment: The University of Montana and the University of New Mexico. Results of the DOJ probe in Montana were revealed in May 2013. The findings letter for UNM came out at the end of April this year. via / Creative Commons License

There’s expectation in the air when students go off to college—an expectation of independence and learning—and even safety. But for many people on campuses around the country who experience sexual assault or harassment, the illusion of safety can fall away. Now, the federal government has begun looking at why.

Arianna Sena / KUNM

  KUNM Call In Show 6/9 8a: The results of a federal investigation about how UNM handles sexual assault are out, and the report is sharp and critical. We’ll talk to folks from the university as well as advocates for survivors about their reactions and what’s next for the university.

In the wake of 11-year-old Ashlynne Mike’s death in Shiprock on the Navajo Nation, questions have surfaced about law enforcement resources, a late Amber Alert and legal jurisdiction for the crime that’s being tried in federal court. Hand-in-hand with those concerns is also the high rate of assault on Native women.

Deleana OtherBull, executive director of the Coalition to Stop Violence Against Native Women, says talking about these issues is tough, but it has to happen to support health and wellness in tribal communities. 


When state officials unveiled a $2.7 million ad campaign aimed at improving the quality of life for New Mexico kids this week, Catholic leaders responded with criticism, releasing a statement saying it takes more than advertising to fight a problem as big and as severe as child abuse.

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On Friday the U.S. Department of Justice released the findings of its investigation into how the University of New Mexico handles sexual assault and harassment.

Marisa Demarco / KUNM

The legislative session ended at noon on Thursday, Feb. 18, and even though funding was scarce, lawmakers found money to process sexual assault evidence that’s been piling up around the state. 

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In the final hours of the 2016 session, lawmakers are scrambling to push legislation through and finish the budget. Several measures would address the almost 5,500 untested rape kits in the state, including one that creates a task force to help survivors and ensure their rights.

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There were 5,406 untested sexual assault evidence kits in the state at the end of last year, according to the state auditor. A pair of bills to tackle the problem cleared their first hurdles on Tuesday, Feb. 2.

Arianna Sena / KUNM

People who’ve reported sexual assaults to the University of New Mexico have said lengthy investigations leave them in limbo for months while anxiety interferes with their studies. But UNM is making some changes to try to speed things up.

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Sexual assault policies on campuses around the country are being scrutinized, and the Department of Justice has been looking at the University of New Mexico this year. Some UNM students say the university isn’t clear about when their sexual assault reports will remain confidential—and when they won’t.

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  While students wait for the University of New Mexico to investigate their claims of sexual assault, sometimes their grades suffer, and the long process can be consuming. The holdup might be because civil rights investigators at UNM only recently had sexual assault cases added to their workload.   

Arianna Sena

A former UNM student who said she was assaulted by two Lobo football players and a CNM student last year filed a lawsuit in District Court  against the university Thursday. The lawsuit alleges Title IX investigators at UNM protected the athletes by conducting a shoddy investigation. 

MDC Chief Phillip Greer

The Bernalillo County jail’s chief resigned more than nine months ago. Phillip Greer filled the position last month at the Metropolitan Detention Center, the 39th biggest jail in the country. Greer hails from Minnesota, where he was the executive director of corrections for three counties, and he has a background in assuring jails comply with national standards.  

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KUNM Call In Show Thu 1/22 8a: 

What options are available to survivors of on-campus sexual assault in New Mexico? How can we make campuses safer? What can be done to improve the way universities and colleges handle sexual assault?

We'd like to hear from you. Email, add your comments to this post, Tweet @KUNMHealth, or call in live during the show.


Arianna Sena

Earlier this month the U.S. Department of Justice announced it was investigating the University of New Mexico over its policies on sexual assault.

Public Health New Mexico student reporter Arianna Sena gathered student reactions to the DOJ announcement and found that many on campus were unaware that an investigation was taking place.

Click here for a link to resources for victims of sexual assault on campus.

UNM is hosting its inaugural Sex Week next week, and this year’s theme is preventing sexual assault.

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Reports of drug-facilitated sexual assaults are on the rise in Albuquerque. People who work with victims aren’t sure whether that’s because date rape drugs are being used more often or people are more aware of them.

Gail Starr is the clinical coordinator for SANE, a collaborative of medical professionals that helps victims of sexual assault. She said a variety of substances—including designer drugs—are being used these days. “There are so many drugs that we as nurses, we’re not focused on exactly what drug. The law enforcement can worry about that,” she said.

Sexual Assault On NM College Campuses

May 7, 2014
Wolfram Burner via Flickr / Creative Commons License

KUNM Call In Show Thu. 5/8 8a: The federal government is now inquiring into the handling of sexual assault cases on 55 college campuses across the country. No New Mexico schools appear on the recently-released list of schools under investigation, but the University of New Mexico, for one, has been proactive in setting up programs related to sexual assault prevention and support for survivors of assault.  

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The U.S. Senate unanimously approved changes to the way sexual assault cases are handled by the military on Monday night—but stopped short of removing the chain of command from the process. Last week a measure that would have done just that failed by five votes.