55 schools face U.S. federal sex assault probe

Oklahoman Published: May 1, 2014

WASHINGTON (AP) — Fifty-five colleges and universities — big and small, public and private — are being investigated over their handling of sexual abuse complaints under Title IX, the Education Department revealed Thursday.

The Education Department’s decision to release the list is unprecedented and comes as the Obama administration seeks to shed greater transparency on the issue of sexual assault in higher education and how it is being handled.

Going forward, the department said, it will keep an updated list of schools facing such an investigation and make it available upon request.

The schools range from big public universities like Ohio State University, the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor and Arizona State University to private schools like Knox College in Illinois, Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania and Catholic University of America in the District of Columbia. Ivy League schools like Harvard, Princeton and Dartmouth are also on the list.

The agency previously would confirm such an investigation when asked, but students and others were often unaware of them.

“We hope this increased transparency will spur community dialogue about this important issue,” Catherine E. Lhamon, the department’s assistant secretary for civil rights, said in a statement.

Lhamon said a school’s appearance on the list does not mean that it has violated the law but that an investigation is ongoing.

Some investigations were prompted by complaints directly to the department; others were initiated by the department after a regular compliance review. That was the case at Dartmouth, where investigators visited the Hanover, New Hampshire, campus in late January to speak with students, faculty and alumni.

“We are hopeful at the end of this there will be a resolution that will strengthen our internal processes and result in a safer community,” Dartmouth spokesman Justin Anderson said Thursday. “There’s always something we can learn and ways to get better.”

Title IX prohibits gender discrimination at schools that receive federal funds. It is the same law that guarantees girls equal access to sports, but it also regulates institutions’ handling of sexual violence and increasingly is being used by victims who say their schools failed to protect them.

Continue reading this story on the...