Reporting Sexual Assaults

The Ferris State University Department of Public Safety encourages all victims impacted by a sexual assault to report the incident to our Department. An individual can either stop by the Department, or they or a support person can call the Department at (231) 591-5000 to report. Early reporting is crucial in the event that evidence needs to be collected and secured.

Reporting a sexual assault to the Department of Public Safety does not mean that the person reporting has to press criminal charges, however it begins the process and secures and preserves evidence in the event that the person reporting wishes to press charges later. Early reporting also ensures that the victim receives immediate and professional assistance for all of their needs.

DPS will typically hold onto a SANE examination kit or other evidence collected in a sexual assault investigation for one year in those cases where the victim makes an informed decision not to prosecute the offender. If this happens, after a year is up, we will contact the victim again to determine if they are considering pressing charges, or may still be contemplating pressing charges. If they are still trying to decide, we will hold on to all evidence collected while they make their determination.

After one year, if the victim is able to make an informed decision they do not want to prosecute, and are not contemplating prosecution in the future, we will then seek the approval of the prosecuting attorney to destroy the evidence. The evidence will not be destroyed unless an independent party, the prosecuting attorney, authorizes the destruction. Spectrum Health Big Rapids keeps kits 18 months for those who do not want to report to law enforcement. 

If the victim requests, one of our officers can meet them at our Department, or privately at a place chosen by the individual. Sometimes a person may feel more comfortable meeting with a gender specific police officer. If available at the time of the request, the Department will make every effort to have that officer meet with them. The victim is welcome to have a support person present. During this initial contact, our officer(s) will provide them with University and local support services information such as our counseling services at the Birkam Health Center, the Spectrum Health Big Rapids Hospital, and the Women’s Information Services Inc. (WISE).

As an adult, an individual reporting a sexual assault has several options regarding privacy. The Department of Public Safety will not contact the parents of the reporting person unless requested to do so. In addition, the victim retains the right to determine how the investigation will be handled: either as a criminal prosecution, a referral to the University’s Office of Student Conduct for University disciplinary action, or both. The victim may also choose to request that no criminal or University disciplinary actions be filed against the suspect(s).

If the victim chooses to pursue criminal charges against the suspect(s), a professional investigation will begin and they will be updated continuously. This would include the process from the beginning of the investigation through submittal to the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office for review and prosecution.

If you have been impacted by a sexual assault you will be treated with respect, courtesy, sensitivity, and professionalism at all times. You will not be accused, blamed, or judged for the incident that occurred. Remember, sexual assaults are about control and power and your loss of that control. Your investigation will be taken seriously regardless of your gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or the sexual orientation or gender of the suspect(s).

The Ferris State University Department of Public Safety will make every effort to maintain the confidentiality of the investigation and limit information to those with a requirement or legitimate reason to be involved. As the needs of the individual evolve during this process, our officers will facilitate connecting them with available University and community resources.

Resources For Sexual Assault Victims