Sacramento Bee file, 2000
Sacramento Bee file, 2000 Jennifer Beeman, who officially retired from the university in June after 16 years as director of the Campus Violence Prevention Program, has been accused of grossly inflating federal statistics on sex crimes at UC Davis for the past three years.
Last Modified: Friday, Oct. 2, 2009 - 9:02 am
Past problems with misreported campus sex crimes statistics, through both understatement and exaggeration, re-emerged Thursday at the University of California, Davis.
Officials alleged that the former head of campus anti-violence efforts, Jennifer Beeman, had grossly inflated the number of forcible sexual offenses in three years of mandatory reports to the federal government.
Beeman officially retired from the university in June after 16 years as director of the Campus Violence Prevention Program. She did not respond to The Bee's attempts to contact her Thursday.
University officials said Beeman was placed on administrative leave in December 2008 amid separate allegations that she improperly charged travel expenses to federal violence prevention grants.
That investigation was closed after Beeman repaid $1,372 for overbilling for hotel costs and mileage to meetings she apparently did not attend. But a second investigation related to those travel expenses is ongoing, officials said.
At a news conference Thursday, one top campus official called Beeman's alleged over-reporting of sexual offenses "an isolated incident" that the university hadn't seen coming.
"It's a sound program and this one incident of misreporting should not cloud that fact," said Robert Loessberg-Zahl, the assistant executive vice chancellor.
But it wasn't the first time the reporting of sexual assaults on the UC Davis campus had been called into question or that Beeman had been embroiled in controversy.
In an investigative series published in 2000, The Bee found the university had consistently under-reported sexual assaults to the federal government.
In 2001, a Bee story revealed Beeman had written a federal grant application in 1999 in which she said that as many as 700 students at UC Davis were victims of rape or attempted rape each year.
In that same time frame, the university was officially telling federal authorities that rapes and assaults on campus were practically nonexistent.
Beeman's estimate was part of a proposal that netted the school more than $500,000 from the U.S. Justice Department for crime-fighting efforts.
At the time, Beeman said she had extrapolated the number from statistics that showed 1 in 20 college women was a victim of rape or attempted rape.
While Beeman's grant application to the federal government included the statistic, a copy she gave The Bee omitted it. Beeman explained the difference between the two as a mistake.
Yet after that discrepancy was exposed, Beeman was nonetheless allowed sole authority for reporting her office's sex-crime statistics � a move described Thursday by university officials as a mistake.
From now on, they said, a panel of campus police, lawyers and students would be involved.
Annual campus crime reports to the Department of Education are required under the Clery Act � a federal law named for a freshman murdered at Pennsylvania's Lehigh University in 1986. Clery Act reporting violations can result in a fine of $25,000 per incident, according to the university.
Not until Beeman was out on medical leave did another UC Davis employee review her figures for previous reporting periods, officials said.
Marisa Messier, a victim advocate at the violence prevention program, said she was stunned to find no records of many of the incidents Beeman had reported.
Messier said she was "shocked and incredibly disheartened" by her discovery.
Loessberg-Zahl summarized the findings of an internal review and an investigation by an outside expert.
In last year's Clery Act statistics, based on Beeman's figures, UC Davis reported 48 forcible sexual offenses in 2005, 68 incidents in 2006, and 69 offenses in 2007, he said.
But reviews showed the actual numbers were less than half that high: 21 in 2005, 23 in 2006, and 33 in 2007, Loessberg-Zahl said.
Whether the misreported statistics had played a role in a nearly $1 million crime-fighting grant awarded to UC Davis and other University of California campuses by the Justice Department in 2007 could not be determined Thursday.
In total, past announcements suggest, Beeman may have played a role in securing nearly $3 million in federal grants awarded to UC Davis during her tenure.
UC officials said Beeman's alleged misdeeds had been reported to the Justice Department and the Department of Education.
A Justice Department official said need, usually shown through crimes statistics, is one factor in awarding violence prevention grants.
UC Davis officials said Clery Act statistics were not used directly in the $1 million grant application. Asked whether the false reporting would affect the prestigious grant, campus Police Chief Annette Spicuzza said, "Our hope, of course, is that it would not."