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School's rape rate low; program is well-staffed

LOGAN — Utah State is the only university or college in Utah with a full-time sexual-assault counselor.

Rachel Brighton was hired to head USU's Sexual Assault and Anti-Violence Information office four years ago after a woman told an administrator she'd been sexually assaulted off campus. The administrator wasn't sure what to do, however.

The incident made officials realize USU needed to have one person to counsel victims and coordinate services, says Dr. Jim Davis, director of student health and wellness.

"There were lots of people providing the services," he says. "We decided to take the step and coordinate them."

Although a 2006 study by the U.S. Justice Department found that rape is the most common violent crime on college campuses, USU has had relatively few rapes, says USU police Sgt. Joe Huish.

The latest statistics available indicate three rapes were reported to USU police from 2003 to 2005. During the same three years, 13 sexual assaults were reported.

Sexual assault involves any sexual activity with an unwilling person, while rape is forcible sexual intercourse.

Huish attributes the relatively low number of sex crimes at USU to awareness efforts, law-abiding students and the campus' distance from an interstate highway. Criminals passing through tend to see campuses as ideal places to find rape victims, he says.

"A college campus is a high-target area," he says. "So we tend to be a little bit secluded."