FAQs on Reporting Sexual Assaults
VCU Police officers often get questions about the sexual assault reporting process.
Here are common, frequently asked questions, and answers, from our victim-witness specialists:
Q: If an assault occurred while I was at school, can I still report from home?
A: Yes, you can call the non-emergency line @ (804) 828-1196 to make an official report.
Q: What's next after I make a VCU police report?
A: The Victim Witness Coordinator, Ofc. Merricks, will contact you in 24 - 48 hours via phone and email to offer resources & services. If you request a criminal investigation, she will let you know which detective will investigate.
Q: What can I expect from VCU Police detectives during a full investigation?
A: You will meet in-person, via Zoom or by phone for a formal interview with a detective. There may be several meetings with you, the detective & your assigned Commonwealth’s Attorney.
Q: How do I report an incident that occurred at home during the COVID-19 pandemic?
A: You can contact your local police department to make an official report. VCU Police can also take an administrative report (not mandatory) and connect you with counseling, advocacy services and assist you in making an official report with the agency that has jurisdiction over the incident. You can also work with our Victim-Witness Coordinator, who can let you know what to expect as the process continues.
Q: How long does a criminal investigation take?
A: There is no set time frame. The judicial process can be lengthy, but we ensure plenty of support during this time. Ofc. Merricks can accompany survivors to each court appearance and the Commonwealth’s Attorney will also have a victim advocate for you. VCU also offers counseling and advocacy services.
Q: What if I need accommodations for classes?
A: The court can provide written documentation for your class and work accommodations. VCU has several offices to assist with class accommodations, but these are only recommendations and requests; the professor makes the final decision.
Q: How does reporting an assault lead to a Title IX investigation?
A: Title IX investigations are administrative investigations by the university and are different from criminal investigations. If a survivor identifies a suspect to VCU Police, and that suspect is VCU-affiliated, the Title IX office is notified. For more information on Title IX, visit vcuhelpline.com.
Q: If I’m not ready to report to police, can I still have evidence collected?
A: Yes. You can call VCU Police or visit the VCUPD’s You Have Options web page for a list of hospitals offering forensic exams. Nurses can conduct exams even if you have not reported to police; evidence is preserved in case you choose to report later. VCU Police encourages survivors to prioritize medical needs following a sexual assault (and not just for evidence collection purposes).
Q: Can I talk with the police even if I'm not sure I want to make a report yet?
A: Yes. VCU Police follows the You Have Options Program. Survivors, friends of survivors, colleagues and others can call in to obtain information about the reporting process without having to provide any details of the assault. We also take anonymous reports; any information about an assault has the potential to assist in other active sexual assault investigations.