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February 26, 2010
1:55 PM

‘Undetected Rapists’ on College Campuses

Texas A&M Case Exemplifies a Troubling Plague of Repeat Offenders

WASHINGTON - February 26 - Repeat offenders account for a significant number of sexual assaults on campus, but school authorities are often slow to realize they have such “undetected rapists” in their midst, according to a joint investigation by Texas Watchdog and the Center for Public Integrity. Some of the offenders actually appear to be pillars of the campus community — like Elton Yarbrough at Texas A&M.

The one-time Texas A&M senior is now sitting in a Texas prison until at least 2015 for felony sexual assault. He was tried on just one assault charge, but five women — including four female A&M students — testified Yarbrough raped or sexually assaulted them over a three year period. Yarbrough is one of six alleged serial offenders at colleges across the country the Center found during its year-long investigation of sexual assault on college campuses. The six were accused in court records, campus records, or other public documents of assaulting multiple women.

The story, “‘Undetected Rapists' on Campus: a Troubling Plague of Repeat Offenders,” is the third of three new pieces being released this week as part of the Center's Sexual Assault on Campus series. A story released Wednesday revealed that students found “responsible” for sexual assaults on campus often face little or no punishment from school judicial systems, while their victims' lives are frequently turned upside down. A story published Thursday found that the Education Department's Office of Civil Rights rarely investigates student allegations of botched school proceedings regarding campus sexual assault. When cases do go forward, the civil rights office rarely rules against the schools, and virtually never issues any sanctions against institutions. Three earlier pieces in the Sexual Assault on Campus project ran last December.  

The Center's package marks a number of significant collaborative efforts, including a series of three stories and a Talk of the Nation call-in program from National Public Radio News. The NPR Series was produced by a special NPR Investigative Unit, with reports airing on Morning Edition and All Things Considered. The Center also collaborated with the Investigative News Network, a coalition of some two dozen news organizations dedicated to watchdog journalism. The Center's pieces will be accompanied by localized campus assault stories from five members of the network — the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism, the New England Center for Investigative Reporting, Texas Watchdog, the Rocky Mountain News Network, and Investigate West.

The network was formed last summer following a three-day meeting of mostly nonprofit investigative journalism groups in New York. The mission of the network is to facilitate the work and public reach of its member organizations, to foster high-quality, original investigative journalism, and to hold government and corporate power accountable at the local, national, and international levels.

The Center for Public Integrity is a nonprofit organization dedicated to producing original, responsible investigative journalism on issues of public concern. The Center is non-partisan and non-advocacy. We are committed to transparent and comprehensive reporting both in the United States and around the world.


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