In 2008, a female student at Arizona State University alleged that she was sexually assaulted at a fraternity party on campus. In February of this year, she filed a claim against the fraternity and its individual members. Recently, a separate suit was filed against the Board of Regents at ASU, alleging that the school did not do enough to investigate or prevent the assault as required by federal law.
Title IX was enacted to prevent discrimination on the basis of gender in educational institutions. The law requires that a school, once it learns of a sexual assault, should effectively investigate the incident, eliminate the risk, and remedy the harm to the student whenever possible. The victim claims that ASU failed in its duties under federal law to protect students from a fraternity that has a history of disciplinary issues.
At the heart of the claim is the investigation, or lack of, that was conducted by the university and the reasons behind it. A report by The Arizona Republic stated that the victim went to the hospital to report the incident. The ASU police noted that the victim did not withdraw her consent, but gave no other reasons for this conclusion and performed no further investigation.
The lawsuit cites the investigation as inadequate, noting that investigators even failed to give the victim a forensic examination, a standard procedure in many sexual assault cases. It is also alleged that incidents like this are intentionally underreported by the university to make the campus appear safer than it actually is.
According to the Center for Public Integrity, the underreporting of sexual assault claims is a common problem in schools throughout the country. In 2009, CPI conducted an investigation and found that loopholes and limitations in the Clery Act, an act requiring campuses to report crimes, were causing “systematic problems in accurately documenting the total numbers of campus-related sexual assaults.” Additionally, legal definitions of assaults and the reporting requirements under the act have also caused confusion.
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