Obama Administration warns colleges to be more aware of rape

IUPUI campus (WTHR file photo)
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The Obama Administration is warning colleges and universities that they should not turn a blind eye to sexual assaults on campus in a new set of guidelines to help victims.

You can never tell that Jenny Wendt is marking an anniversary Tuesday.

"You didn't even know it was today?" Eyewitness News asked Wendt.

"I did not know today is the day and I had no clue when we spoke on the phone. Today is the day," she said.

Tuesday marks the ninth anniversary of the day Wendt was raped.

"I decided that I was not going to let this define my life. It was just one day in my life. One event on one day," she said.

Wendt was a student at IUPUI, living off campus, when she was raped in her apartment by a teaching assistant in a class she was taking. She stayed in bed for three days afterwards and decided not to report the assault.

"Why repeat it? Why go through court? Why persecute myself? Why become this girl on campus who was raped?" she said. "I would be in the media, persecuted in court and I would be known on campus by everybody as that girl and so I chose not to report it."

It's a decision she has always regretted. Looking back now, she wishes she had come forward. Especially since the perpetrator in this case walked into the Marion County Sheriff's Department just last January and confessed to the crime.

"Rape on our college campuses is a terrible problem. It's out of control," said State Rep. Christina Hale (D-Indianapolis).

But Hale says the White House guidelines have to be enforced to be effective.

"We need to do two things. We need to ensure people are reporting when those crimes are committed. Need to ensure our campuses are prepared and willing to take the steps necessary to connect victims with the services they need," she continued.

Jenny doesn't see herself as a survivor, she says she is a thriver.

"Life is beautiful. Why would you want to let something, one thing that someone else has done, ruin your life? That is ridiculous to me. I refuse to let one person who is out of their mind take over my life. This is my life," Wendt boldly stated.

The perpetrator in Wendt's case did confess to the crime, but the statute of limitations had expired.

The Obama Administration says schools need to identify trained, confidential victims' advocates and conduct surveys to better gauge the frequency of sexual assault on their campuses. The Justice Department will help develop training programs in trauma care for school officers and assess different models for schools to use to adjudicate such cases since sexual assault survivors are often wary of embarrassing questions by students and staff.