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01/29/2015 11:45 pm ET Updated Jan 29, 2015

Fewer Than Half The Students Accused Of Sexual Assault Are Judged Responsible

ASSOCIATED PRESS

Fewer than half of college students accused of sexual assault are found responsible for the offense, according to a higher education insurance company's study of claims.

Accused students were found responsible for sexual assault in 45 percent of the cases, according to a study released this week by United Educators, which provides liability insurance and risk management for colleges and universities. The accused were found not responsible in 25 percent of cases, the study said. In 7 percent of the cases, the alleged perpetrators withdrew prior to the investigation. The remaining 23 percent of the cases were not investigated or were not adjudicated.

Of those found responsible for sexual assault, 43 percent were expelled, 39 percent were suspended, and 6 percent were placed on probation.

The punishment findings echo a national analysis conducted by The Huffington Post in 2014, which found that students who were judged responsible for sexual assault were expelled in 30 percent of cases and suspended in 47 percent, while 13 percent received probation and 17 percent were given educational sanctions.

The insurer studied 305 rape claims from 104 institutions from 2011 and 2013. Claims were defined as a demand for damages or an event that could give rise to legal action.

A vast majority of victims in the cases were freshmen or sophomores. Two in five waited an average of almost a year to report the assault. Victims commonly reported being drugged or otherwise incapacitated at the time of the assault. Nine in 10 victims knew the perpetrator.

Institutions insured by United Educators spent roughly $17 million from 2011 to 2013 on campus rape claims, largely due to lawsuits and federal investigations, the company said. United Educators declined to make anyone available for an interview.

The insurer released the study to encourage colleges to incorporate its findings into prevention plans. The study comes as 95 colleges and universities are under investigation by the U.S. Department of Education for their handling of sexual assault cases, spurred largely by victims' complaints.

Colleges also face a number of lawsuits from students accused of sexual assault, claiming mistreatment and rights violations.

Some women who filed federal complaints also have sued their colleges. Some of those cases have settled. For example, Occidental College agreed to end a lawsuit against it in 2013 for an undisclosed sum, and the University of Connecticut settled a lawsuit in 2014 for $1.3 million.

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