UConn Under Federal Investigation For Handling Of Sexual Assaults

12/09/2013 06:03 pm ET | Updated Jan 25, 2014
ASSOCIATED PRESS

The University of Connecticut is under federal investigation after current and former students complained the school failed to take reports of sexual assault and harassment seriously.

UConn, based in Storrs, Conn., said Monday it has received notice from the U.S. Department of Education of an investigation under the anti-sex discrimination law Title IX. The probe is based on complaints by current and former students filed in October with the Education Department's Office for Civil Rights, claiming that the school failed to properly investigate reports of sexual assault and that campus police failed to protect students. An Education Department official confirmed to The Huffington Post an investigation is underway.

"The university expected and welcomes this review," said UConn general counsel Richard Orr. "We look forward to working with their staff as they examine the policies and practices that UConn employs to prevent sexual assault and discrimination, to educate our community on these important issues, and to provide victims with the resources they need."

UConn adds to a growing list of universities and colleges under federal investigation after students complained the schools failed campus rape victims. The effort has been coordinated through a network of sexual assault victims, all students or recent graduates, who also assisted filing the complaints against UConn.

A Dec. 6 letter from the Education Department to UConn President Susan Herbst noted the U.S. has not determined the validity of the complaints, but warned the university against retaliation against complainants or participants in the investigation. The Education Department has not decided whether to investigate a Clery Act complaint against UConn, alleging failures to follow federal law requiring accurate documentation of crimes on campus.

The university also faces a federal lawsuit under Title IX, the gender equity law, filed by four of the complainants.

Complaints against the school allege that UConn school police dropped investigations of sexual violence without interviewing all witnesses, then cited a lack of information.

One complainant, 2013 alumna Kylie Angell, said the male student found responsible by the university of sexually assaulting her was allowed back on campus two weeks after he was expelled. Angell said she received no warning.

Carolyn Luby, another student complainant, received rape and death threats in response to an open letter she wrote criticizing a new school logo. The university declined to intervene, Luby said, and told her to keep a low profile and wear a hat on campus.

Herbst said in October that the university is a national leader in handling sexual misconduct.

Related on HuffPost:

Schools Investigating Or Reviewing Policies On Sexual Assault

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