BYU Police request they be investigated over their handling of sexual assault cases

Posted at 9:19 PM, Jun 01, 2016
and last updated 2016-06-01 23:19:49-04

PROVO, Utah --The Department of Public Safety is investigating Brigham Young University Police over how they handle information in sexual assault cases.

Apparently, BYU Police Chief Larry Stott is the one who wanted the extra scrutiny.

Students admit, there's been a lot swirling this spring about how sex assault is handled on campus.

"It's kind of a hard situation," student Amelia Kabwika said.

BYU made national headlines after claims they tried to investigate a sexual assault and rape victim for Honor Code violations.

Protesters have rallied and called for a change in policies, saying the Honor Code further victimizes sexual assault survivors.

On top of that, there's been concerns over how the Honor Code office got the police report in the first place.

"With all the things that have been going on, all the tension on Title IV and the Honor Code, He wants to make sure that we're doing things right," said Lt. Steven Messick with BYU Police.

He said the chief is asking the state to take a good, hard look at how they handle sex assault and rape records.

"They'll look at sexual assault reports, dissemination of reports, looking at, are they being disseminated appropriately?" he explained.

Police department policy, he said, calls for not sharing that information with the Honor Code office without the victim's consent.

But, with the recent events, he said they want to make sure they are doing everything right.

"We need to make sure that people have confidence in us and in our police department," Lt. Messick said.

He said there's no clear answer on how long the investigation will take, or what possible repercussions they could face should a violation be found. Students we talked with agree, no matter what your stance, this is a good step.

"I think it's great that BYU Police is willing to be investigated, just being up front," BYU student Cherish Germaine said.

"I think it shows a lot for them to say that they're trying to do everything that they can," said Tadd Challis, another student.

Marissa Villasenor, A Department of Public Safety spokesperson, sent a statement to Fox 13 News:

"At the request of the BYU Police Chief Larry Stott and other law enforcement administrators in Utah County, the Utah Department of Public Safety's State Bureau of Investigation (SBI) will review information access and dissemination issues including any possible violations related to the sexual assault reporting situation at BYU made public this spring. SBI is currently working with BYU Police Department, and other law enforcement agencies involved, to determine the scope and focus of the investigation.

"If appropriate, at the conclusion of the investigation the findings will be reported to the Utah County Attorney's Office and the requesting agencies. Because this is an active investigation, we cannot release further information."