LOGAN – Unlike other universities currently under investigation for Title IX violations, the U.S. Department of Justice’s investigation into how Utah State University handles allegations of sexual assault is “exponentially rarer and far more serious,” according to S. Daniel Carter, president of Safety Advisors for Educational Campuses.
Hundreds of institutions across the country, including several universities in Utah, are under Title IX investigations from the Department of Education, but Carter said he can only recall two or three others that have been investigated by the DOJ in the past six years.
“Before that there were even fewer,” he said. “While there are more than 300 Title IX investigations with the Office of Civil Rights, to the best of my knowledge, the Utah State University case is the only Title IX sexual violence case currently under investigation by the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice.”
Specifics of the USU investigation are unclear, but a January letter from the DOJ states it is investigating the university’s “handling of allegations of sexual harassment, including sexual assault, between 2013 and 2016.”
The letter stated the DOJ had learned of the university’s response to “numerous reports of student-on-student sexual assault.”
Title IX is a federal law implemented to prohibit discrimination in education based on a person’s sex. USU spokesman Eric Warren said the university is cooperating fully with the review.
“In fact we welcome the opportunity,” he said. “This will provide an opportunity to improve our processes.”
The university has had a number of high-profile sexual assault cases in recent years, including one involving <a href=”http://www.cachevalleydaily.com/news/local/article_d6e70776-4b94-11e7-828a-034a385bcca8.html” target=”_blank”>former USU football player Torrey Green</a> and another involving former <a href=”http://www.cachevalleydaily.com/news/local/article_3295c264-e886-11e6-a1c6-4fb7b674fd94.html” target=”_blank”>USU fraternity member Jason Relopez</a>.
Like any other Title IX investigation, the results could mean the loss of federal funding, but Carter said a case like this means potential involvement from the U.S. Attorney for criminal prosecution.