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Pennsylvania Public

2 cases

Campus Context

  • Sexual assault gained attention at Penn State in January 2014, when the Education Department's Office for Civil Rights said that it was conducting a compliance review of the university's handling of sexual-violence allegations. The review was said to have been separate from inquiries related to the Sandusky child-sex-abuse scandal. A damning report on that scandal had been released two years earlier, in the summer of 2012.
  • At the time the department said OCR was reviewing Penn State, Catherine E. Lhamon, the department's assistant secretary for civil rights, said the review was motivated in part by "a dramatic increase in the number of forcible sex offenses occurring on campus as reported by the university itself." A prominent campus-safety expert said at the time that the sharp increase in reporting could be explained by Penn State's efforts to strengthen its compliance with the federal law known as the Clery Act in the wake of the Sandusky scandal.
  • In May 2014, the Education Department identified Penn State in an initial list of 55 institutions facing a federal inquiry for potential Title IX violations over their handling of sexual-violence cases.
  • The following spring, the Penn State chapter of the Kappa Delta Rho fraternity attracted national attention when news reports revealed that the fraternity had allegedly maintained private Facebook pages featuring featuring photos of unsuspecting nude women, some of whom appeared to be incapacitated or asleep. Penn State pulled its recognition of the fraternity for three years, and the group's national office expelled 38 members from the organization. Penn State's president, Eric J. Barron, announced the formation of a task force to study the role of Greek groups at the university.
  • Students have protested the institution’s handling of sexual assault.
  • A former Penn State student sued the university and the fraternity over what he said was the Greek group's pattern of "extreme hazing" and sexual assaults.
  • The institution has affirmed its commitment to victims of sexual assault, collected resources online, taken steps to improve its compliance with Title IX and the Clery Act, and convened a task force to examine the role of Greek life.
  • Penn State released a climate survey in April 2016, finding that on the University Park campus, 28 percent of undergraduate women said they had experienced at least one instance of attempted or completed sexual assault (defined in the survey as nonconsensual oral, vaginal, or anal penetration) since enrolling there.

Cases

Case 2
Opened:Jan. 23, 2014
  • This case is based on a compliance review by the U.S. Department of Education.
Case 1
Opened:Nov. 22, 2013 - April 14, 2014
  • This investigation at Penn State was resolved in April 2014, with the Education Department citing insufficient evidence as the reason for the resolution. That means there is no letter of findings of resolution agreement.