More than 1 in 4 current or former college athletes report experiencing instances of sexual assault or harassment by someone in a campus leadership position, according to a new survey conducted by a nonprofit dedicated to educating families about sexual violence.
The study, commissioned by Lauren’s Kids and first reported by USA Today, found that college athletes were 2.5 times more likely than the general student population to have encountered sexual abuse, with coaches most commonly identified as the perpetrators.
About 10 percent of those in the general population said they had experienced similar situations.
According to the survey, about one-quarter of the current or former college athletes who said they’d been abused or harassed reported it to campus administrators, with nearly 40 percent saying they felt pressured not to over doubts that it was actually abuse, as well as fear of losing sports scholarships.
The digital survey, conducted in early June, included nearly 800 adults under the age of 45 who said they had attended both private and public universities.
Florida state Sen. Lauren Book (D), who founded the nonprofit organization, told USA Today that the survey’s results show that colleges and universities “need to do more to keep students on their campuses safe.”
“It’s about holding everyone accountable and putting policies and procedures in place,” said Book, a survivor of sexual assault.
The findings come amid several high-profile lawsuits against university leaders over sexual assault and harassment accusations, as well as allegations that school administrators had knowledge of the abuse but did nothing to address it.
More than 400 men have filed lawsuits containing sexual abuse allegations against former Ohio State University doctor Richard Strauss since 2018.
Many of the men alleged that Strauss, who died in 2005, groped and raped them during medical exams or treatment.
Star civil rights attorney Ben Crump, as well as lawyer Rick Schulte, are representing some of the men in the case against the university over reports that some employees had been aware of the abuse as early as 1979.
Shulte told USA Today that the Lauren’s Kids survey is “a small study, but a very powerful one in my view.”
“It provides real data and information for parents, people and legislatures to see what’s going on,” he added. “We need more studies like this.”