Sexual assaults in study-abroad programs draw new attention

MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) — As colleges wrestle with how to address sexual assault, a legal challenge involving a small Vermont institution brings an obscure part of the equation to the fore: how to report, investigate and punish sexual assaults that happen in overseas-study programs.

Statistics on such assaults are scant, although no one disputes they occur. The federal requirements for schools to report and investigate sexual assaults overseas can be murky. And since perpetrators and victims can be from different schools or studying through programs run by other institutions, colleges' options on punishing students internally can be tricky.

Responding to critics' arguments that campus sexual assaults are underreported, state governments and even Congress are beginning to take steps to better monitor those crimes, and are specifically including overseas study programs.