USF develops first online sex assault reporting system in U.S.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- A Bay Area university will become the first in the nation to try a new online reporting system for victims of sexual assault.

The website will launch in the fall for the University of San Francisco students. It was designed with input from people who've been sexually assaulted and it will potentially help the university crack down on crime.

For someone who's been sexually assaulted, reporting it to police can feel like an impossible and traumatizing next step.

"To be convinced that something bad has happened to you, so you need to do something about it takes an amount of conviction, I guess, and certainty and your memory about what happened to you," said USF graduate student Salma Laabi.

To ease the process, USF is piloting an online option. Callisto allows a victim to privately write up an account of what happened.

"It asks trauma informed questions along the way and even when they answer a question, they can click on a button that says, why are we asking this question?" said USF vice provost of student life Peter Novak.

The student can then choose to just save the file or send it to the university.

"It is a touchy subject, so for someone to be able to do it anonymously or without having to interact with other people is probably a good option," USF student Sarah Milliagn said.

The site also has a matching system if the victim knows their attacker.

"They can put an identifying telephone number, or name, or email account into the system and if it's matched by somebody else, it automatically goes to the university and we can stop repeat offenders," Noval said.

The person making the report wouldn't know there was match, but the match would launch an investigation.
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