Dominican College in the US faces fine for underreporting crime statistics

ORANGEBURG - Dominican College has agreed to pay a $20,000 penalty for underreporting crime statistics in its student handbooks three years in a row.

New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo reported the findings today, saying the school put its students at risk by distributing false information.

"Students and their families deserve an honest assessment of any potential dangers on campus in order to protect themselves and make informed decisions regarding their own safety," Cuomo said.

Inaccurate statistics regarding various crimes were published in the college's 2006-2007, 2007-2008 and 2008-2009 student handbooks, Dominican's lawyer, Phil Semprevivo, said. He said the discrepancies were typographical errors that had been corrected before Cuomo investigated.

"The corrections were made by the college soon after the books were issued. It had nothing to do with the attorney general," he said yesterday.

The college is also required to report its crime statistics to the state Department of Education. Semprevivo said Dominican has never given incorrect information to the department.

As part of its agreement with Cuomo, the college also must develop procedures to ensure accuracy in future handbooks.

"We're making sure everyone involved in publishing and those in security are aware of these guidelines, and making sure everyone is properly trained," Semprevivo said.

 

Dominican Watchdog Note:

Looks like the word "Dominican" is not the world's best trademark. Dominican Watchdog is only 2 months old and the amount of stories we have been able to dig up about fraud and corruption related to the word "Dominican" is just amazing. Dominican Watchdog as a non-profit organization is worried about having enough money to rent the required server space for all our consumer protection warnings when its time to celebrate our first anniversary!

 

Here is the full press release:

Department of Law Department of Law
120 Broadway The State Capitol
New York, NY 10271 Albany, NY 12224

News from Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Albany Press Office / 518-473-5525
New York City Press Office / 212-416-8060

ATTORNEY GENERAL CUOMO SECURES LANDMARK AGREEMENT WITH DOMINICAN
COLLEGE IN STATEWIDE EFFORT TO ENSURE CRIMES ON CAMPUS ARE REPORTED
ACCURATELY

After Allegations of Underreporting On-Campus Crimes, Dominican Agrees
to Reform Procedures in Order to Ensure Accuracy and Oversight

Cuomo Also Sends Notice to Every College and University in New York
Alerting Them That Underreporting Campus Crimes Violates the Law

NEW YORK, NY (June 12, 2009) – Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo today
announced an agreement with Dominican College under which the school
will reform its current system of reporting on-campus crimes in order to
ensure accuracy. Cuomo also issued a letter to every college and
university in New York State, alerting them that underreporting crime
statistics violates state law.

The agreement stems from an investigation by Cuomo’s office into a
complaint that Dominican, a private institution in the Hudson Valley
with nearly two thousand students, was falsely reporting its campus
crime statistics relating to sexual assaults. The complaint was sparked
by the on-campus sexual assault of freshman Megan Wright in 2006.
Attorney General Cuomo’s investigation found that over the course of
several years, Dominican had erroneously reported the number of crimes
that occurred on campus in their student handbook. It also found that
Dominican did not have adequate procedures in place to ensure accurate
reporting.

“When a college underreports crime statistics they put their
students at risk,” said Attorney General Cuomo. “Students and their
families deserve an honest assessment of any potential dangers on
campus, in order to protect themselves and make informed decisions
regarding their own safety. Today’s agreement with Dominican is a step
in the right direction, and my Office is committed to ensuring that
colleges statewide take steps to ensure that their crime statistics are
accurate.”

Federal law requires that colleges publish an annual report disclosing
information about campus safety policies and procedures and reported
campus crime statistics for the three most recent calendar years.
Failure to do so accurately can constitute fraud under New York State
law.

The agreement executed with Dominican College requires the school to
make the following reforms, as well as pay $20,000 to New York State:

● Require all employees responsible for campus security to attend
a training program regarding crime reporting issues including the
classification and definition of crimes, the collection of crime
reports, timely warning requirements and annual disclosure
requirements;
● Designate officials to oversee and coordinate the collection of
all campus crime reports to ensure that they are properly categorized
and maintained to create an accurate crime report;
● Designate officials to ensure that crime statistics are
accurately published in the annual campus crime report; and
● Designate an official who is responsible for ensuring that
grievance procedures are in place for students.

In the wake of this investigation, the Attorney General’s Office
issued a letter to every college and university in the State of New York
advising them that failure to accurately report campus crime statistics
violates New York law.

Jonathan Kassa, Executive Director of Security on Campus, Inc., a
national non-profit campus security organization dedicated to the
prevention of campus crime, said: “We thank Attorney General Cuomo for
taking this very meaningful step to ensure that all students in New York
are informed about the safety of their college campuses. P
arents
sending their children to school have a right to know whether the
environment is safe, and young people who are leaving home, in most
instances for the first time, should be accurately informed about the
safety of their school. We commend the Attorney General for
highlighting this important issue for all parents, students, schools and
public agencies.”

This case is being handled by Bureau Chief for Civil Rights Alphonso B.
David, Counsel for Civil Rights Spencer Freedman, and Assistant Attorney
Generals Sudarsana Srinivasan and Kayla Gassmann of the Civil Rights
Bureau.

# # #

Go back | Date: 23 Jun 2009
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