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MSU Police: 4 of 7 sex assaults handed off to prosecutors in 2013

By Katherine Mozzone, KTVM Reporter, kmozzone@ktvm.com
Published On: Dec 24 2013 12:02:36 PM MST
Updated On: Oct 30 2013 10:46:30 PM MDT
BOZEMAN, Mont. -

A sex assault was reported at a Montana State University residence hall. Students, faculty and staff were alerted Tuesday night via the university's email alert system.

The alleged incident took place on Saturday, the 26th.

We read through the report and learned a woman claims she was in a North Hedges room with a man she knew when he sexually assaulted her.  

The email alert indicates she didn't tell police until Monday night. MSU is required to send the alert under federal law.

The school also alerted students in September to rape reports at fraternities early on the 15th.

MSU Freshman Braden Leach lives in the North Hedges residence hall. He tells NBC Montana he was surprised to hear a report of sexual assault so close to home.

"It kind of makes you question the people around you and the people you see every day. It's weird to have that happen in the residence hall you live in," says Leach.

The latest reported sex assault in North Hedges puts the 2013 total at seven and for some students that number is surprising.

"Seven is a lot," says MSU student Justin O'Dea.

We wanted to know how this year's numbers compare to sex assaults reported last year and how many of those cases are actually brought forward for prosecution.

Of the seven sex assaults reported, MSU Police tell us they put four cases forward with request for prosecution. However, just last week, police tell us one of the victims asked prosecutors not to move forward with the case, bringing that number down to three.

"I wish more were prosecuted," says O'Dea.

O'Dea says he understands each situation is different but believes, if a report is legitimate and there's evidence against a suspect, the case should move forward to a prosecutor.

"If they did it, they need to be prosecuted," O'Dea says.

Annie Peterson says whether to prosecute isn't so cut and dry. "It ultimately depends on the severity of the case but, I know, if anything of that nature happened to me, I would bring it to prosecution," explains Peterson.

Other students have a different take. Freshman Tanner Lightbourne says he believes those responsible should be brought to just but says...

"It's really up to the victim, if they don't want their name getting out...It's really up to them," says Lightbourne.

MSU Police tell us the number of cases put forward for prosecution so far this year is on par with what they've seen in the past.

For perspective, last year the total number of sex assaults on campus and in noncampus buildings or property reported to MSU Police was three, according to their website.

In 2011, that number was 10.

MSU Police tell us when they spoke to the alleged victim in the case reported Monday, she said she'd be in contact if she wanted to proceed with the investigation. As of this morning, they say they haven't heard back.