106 Colleges Are Under Federal Investigation For Sexual Assault Cases

04/06/2015 03:03 pm ET | Updated Apr 06, 2015

The U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights is now investigating 106 colleges and universities due to concerns about whether the schools violated Title IX in their handling of sexual violence cases.

Some schools have multiple cases open, bringing the total number of investigations to 113 at 106 institutions as of April 1, according to the department's most recent shared information. The number of investigations under the gender equity law Title IX has now reached a record high, doubling from less than a year ago when the department first began disclosing the number of ongoing inquiries.

When the Education Department first unveiled the list of schools under investigation on May 1, 2014, it was reviewing 55 colleges. By October, the tally grew to 85, and reached 94 in early January.

The latest investigations started in March: Cases were opened at the University of California's Davis and Santa Cruz campuses; a second case was opened at the University of Denver; a fourth case was opened at Saint Mary's College of Maryland; and a case was opened at Buffalo State College in the State University of New York system. The SUNY and UC systems each have four campuses under Title IX investigations.

Most of the investigations have started since 2013. The oldest inquiries on the books are at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, Michigan State University, Wittenberg University and the University of Virginia, which all began in mid-2011.

UVA has been the center of much scrutiny in recent months following a scandalous story about rape at the school, published by Rolling Stone in November. The story has since been discredited. However, UVA's investigation predates the story and the timeline for the Rolling Stone article's central (yet debunked) account of a gang rape. It is also one of the more intensive compliance reviews, in which the Education Department looks into everything a school is doing regarding sexual violence.

UVA recently implemented a new sexual assault policy, which typically signals a school is close to a resolution agreement with OCR that would end an investigation. A UVA spokesman said Monday they haven't heard any update from OCR, so as far as they know, "the review remains ongoing." The Education Department typically does not disclose its status of an ongoing investigation.

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