Hanover College is denying allegations that campus security sought to prevent a student from pressing criminal charges against her alleged rapist. Hanover, an Indiana college affiliated with the Presbyterian Church, is currently under investigation by the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights in response to a complaint filed by the same student.
When the department announced its investigation in early January, the school offered a short comment in which it promised to cooperate, stating that federal privacy law prevented it from discussing any specific case. Late last week, however, it released a new statement disputing one of the student's allegations.
Samantha, who requested she only be identified by her first name, claims in her complaint that the school retaliated against her as a sexual assault victim, and that she was pressured by campus security not to file criminal charges against her alleged assailant.
"Hanover College has at no time pressured any student who has filed a complaint, or suggested they give up their right to due process," the college said Thursday. "We are confident that the evidence presented to the DOE will demonstrate our commitment to creating and fostering a welcoming educational environment for all students."
Samantha is standing by her claim. She told HuffPost that last week she reviewed her campus case file, which contains a signed statement she made at the time of her report.
"I, Samantha [last name redacted], do not wish to purse the charges against [name redacted] in the college or outside the college," the statement reads. Her complaint claims that a campus security officer pressured her into signing the statement when she first reported a former boyfriend for sexual assault in October 2011. Samantha also said that the officer told her she would be arrested if she spoke to the ex-boyfriend.
Samantha said the security personnel made her uncomfortable when she was reporting the incident, and that she attempted to leave when her parents arrived to pick her up.
"I told them I wanted to go home and that I didn't want to be there anymore, I just wanted to go home," Samantha told HuffPost. "They told me I couldn't unless I signed saying I wouldn't press charges. I didn't respond at first, but they said I had to or I couldn't leave. My parents were almost there so I said okay so I could go home. At the time I didn't even think about it, because all I could think about was going home and getting away from these people."
A college judicial proceeding held the ex-boyfriend not responsible for the alleged assault.
"It really bothers me, because they are picking that one piece out and are so confident in their denial," Samantha said. "They won't talk about the harassment, they won't talk about how they tried to push me off campus, they won't talk about how badly this has affected me. They didn't see [the officers] hand me that paper and pen and tell me that I had to sign my rights away just so I could go home."
The complaint alleges that the ex-boyfriend later physically assaulted Samantha. When she reported the second incident to the college, campus security declined her offer to provide photos of her bruises from the alleged attack, according to an email obtained by HuffPost.
"Various charges surrounding these allegations have undergone multiple appeals and reviews during the past two years and the College will cooperate fully with any requests or inquiries from the DOE, and welcomes their intervention in this case," the college said in its recent statement.
The OCR is also investigating allegations that Hanover did not list the name and contact information of its Title IX coordinator. The complainant claims the college only posted its Title IX statement after her grievance was filed with the Education Department.
The college declined to comment further for this article.