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Why charges are rarely filed when women are sexually assaulted in Virginia

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Posted at 10:05 AM, Nov 05, 2014
and last updated 2014-11-05 22:58:52-05

RICHMOND, Va. -- Thousands of women are sexually assaulted in Virginia each year, but charges are never filed in most cases -- especially when the assault happened on college campuses.

Why?

University of Virginia student Alex Pinkleton said she was sexually assaulted last year at school.

"Just his presence was pretty threatening," Pinkleton said about a fellow student who she said sexually assaulted her in November 2013 after a night of heavy drinking. "I was blacking out or in a state of black out. When I came to consciousness there was a naked stranger on top of me."

University of Virginia student Alex Pinkleton said she was sexually assaulted last year at school.

University of Virginia student Alex Pinkleton said she was sexually assaulted last year at school.

Pinkleton said she did not immediately report the attack because she partially blamed herself and wanted to forget about it. That is one -- but not the only -- reason CBS 6 investigative reporter Melissa Hipolit found college sexual assault cases like these are rarely prosecuted.

In fact, according to data from the Virginia State Police, only about one quarter of all reported sexual assaults in the entire state of Virginia between 2010 and 2012 resulted in an arrest.

Melissa Hipolit questioned VCU Police Chief John Venuti about sexual assaults on VCU campus.

Melissa Hipolit questioned VCU Police Chief John Venuti about sexual assaults on VCU campus.

Melissa Hipolit questioned VCU Police Chief John Venuti about sexual assaults on the VCU campus, what makes them so difficult to investigate and why charges were filed in just 14 percent of VCU's reported sexual assaults.

Watch Melissa's investigation Wednesday night on CBS 6 News at 11.

Click here to email the CBS 6 Newsroom to let us know what you would like us to investigate.