The U.S. Department of Education has received four complaints from women alleging that their college universities mishandled their sexual assault complaints. The complaints are against American University, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Indiana University Bloomington, and Monmouth University. The Department of Education has not released any details on the claims as they are under investigation and being kept private to protect the students involved.
According to the advocacy group End Rape on Campus, all four universities failed to enforce no-contact orders between the perpetrators and the victims, allowing several of the victims to experience retaliation from the accused. The Department of Education recommends that complaints regarding sexual assault on campus be investigated within 60 days of their receipt. But in these cases, all four of the universities took “significantly longer” to do so. The advocacy group said in a statement, “Ultimately, all of the survivors’ perpetrators were either found not responsible or were given minimal sanctions, creating a hostile environment for the survivors and severely compromising their educational experiences.”
Title IX is the law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex at any educational institution that receives federal funding. A Title IX sex discrimination violation includes cases were sexual assault is “so sever, pervasive, and objectively offensive that it effectively bars the victim’s access to an educational opportunity or benefit.”
Three of the universities have issued statements regarding the complaints. American University has said it will cooperate fully with any investigation. Camille Lepre, an American University spokeswoman said, “AU does not tolerate any form of sexual harassment, assault, or misconduct. The university is committed to stopping discriminatory behavior, preventing its reoccurrence, and remedying its effects, especially through support to the survivor. We strive to investigate complaints prompt and properly.” Tara Peters, a spokeswoman for Monmouth University, said “The safety and security of all members of our campus community is a top priority. Monmouth University prohibits all forms of sexual misconduct, and we have a rigorous and exhaustive protocol and support process to ensure that all concerns are addressed.” The University of Alabama at Birmingham would not discuss details of the complaint, as privacy laws prohibit discussion of the details of a sexual assault investigation. They did release the statement, “We work with appropriate parties on and off campus to review and ensure an appropriate resolution to any incident, as well as continue initiatives to educate and empower our students, faculty, and staff to promote a campus culture that prevents and responds appropriately to sexual assault.” Indiana University Bloomington did not immediately comment on the complaints.
If you are interested in learning more about Title IX, sexual assault on college campus, and a university’s required action in response to a complaint, contact Thomas Law Offices or visit our page on Title IX for more information.