Contact: Christopher Perry
Repeated UConn Complaints Reveal Campus Tribunals Are Shortchanging Rape Victims
WASHINGTON / March 1, 2017 – Since 2013, the University of Connecticut has faced multiple investigations by the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights. The investigations followed complaints that the university violated victims’ rights by “inadequately responding to their reports of sexual assault.” http://projects.chronicle.com/titleix/campus/University-of-Connecticut/. SAVE urges Connecticut lawmakers to take steps to encourage the referral of allegations of sexual violence to the criminal justice system.
In two separate federal lawsuits filed in October 2013, seven students (both current and former at the time) accused UConn of “failing to adjudicate sexual misconduct properly and of failing to stop harassment on campus as required under the federal gender equity law Title IX.” http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/10/21/uconn-sexual-assault-complaint_n_4133713.html
According to the complaints, the alleged victims were completely dissatisfied with the manner in which the campus investigators handled their cases. The students claim that these incidents amount to a failure on the part of the university to adjudicate sexual assault cases properly and consequently leave other women at UConn in danger. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/10/21/uconn-sexual-assault-complaint_n_4133713.html
Ultimately, UConn reached a settlement with five of the plaintiffs, agreeing to pay nearly $1.3 million regarding the institution’s mishandling of their complaints of sexual assault. https://womenhealingviolence.wordpress.com/2014/07/20/5-plaintiffs-reach-agreement-with-uconn-in-sexual-assault-lawsuit/
The Office for Civil Rights launched a separate investigation in 2015, looking into UConn’s handling of a subsequent sexual violence complaint. http://www.nbcconnecticut.com/news/local/New-Sexual-Violence-Complaint-Issued-Against-UConn-292726111.html This case remains under investigation.
As these cases reveal, SAVE believes that campuses are unable to adequately investigate, adjudicate, and sanction campus rapes. The litany of federal lawsuits across the country by complainants showcase the need for reform. Universities are designed to educate students. They are not professional investigators, judges, or prosecutors.
SAVE urges Connecticut legislators to pass legislation that will encourage state universities and colleges to collaborate with law enforcement to provide safety for the school community and justice-centered procedures that increase the reliability in the outcome. To that end, SAVE has developed model legislation that would ensure support services for students, confidential advisors, due process, and dispute resolution options. The SAVE bill is available at http://www.saveservices.org/sexual-assault/cefta/.
SAVE (Stop Abusive and Violent Environments) is working for fair and effective solutions to campus sexual assault: www.saveservices.org