Christopher Krebs has always been fascinated by criminology and what motivates some people to engage in deviant behavior, but his research specialty was cemented while teaching an undergraduate university class.
During a single semester, Krebs had three undergraduates from his criminology class tell him that they were drugged without their knowledge or consent.
“None of them were sexually assaulted, but it was a really scary experience for these students,” said Krebs, Chief Scientist at RTI. “One woke up in the emergency room, and her parents were there from out of state. I started to get interested in studying drug-facilitated sexual assault and how common it was.”
Not finding any substantial research data on the topic, he wrote a proposal and received a grant from the National Institute of Justice to study sexual assault at two large universities.
Krebs’ research, which attracted the attention of the Obama White House, found that rates of sexual assault are very high at some colleges.
Krebs was contacted while on a family vacation by White House staff members asking about the data from the two universities as part of their work on the White House Task Force to Protect Students From Sexual Assault.
The task force, which was formed in 2014, encouraged colleges and universities to conduct climate surveys to collect school-level data on the prevalence and nature of sexual victimization and related measures of campus climate, including students’ knowledge of reporting policies and resources, attitudes about trainings and prevention, and perceptions of the community’s response to the problem.
The task force publicized the research from the two universities, and Krebs and his team were asked by the U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Statistics to conduct a much larger study on sexual assault on college campuses.