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Connecticut University to pay $1.3mn for mishandling rape cases|
Sat Jul 19, 2014
The University of Connecticut will pay five female students $1.3 million for the mishandling of their rape and sexual harassment complaints.
Four of the women filed Title IX federal lawsuits against the school last November, alleging that their rape and sexual harassment complaints were ignored. A fifth woman later joined them on the lawsuit in December.
The US Education Amendments of 1972 (or the Patsy Mink Equal Opportunity in Education Act in 2002) has a portion called Title IX which states “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving federal financial assistance.”
Activists use Title IX to report sexual violence on campus. According to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), “when students suffer sexual assault and harassment, they are deprived of equal and free access to an education.”
The UConn women were assaulted between 2010 and 2013 while all of them were students at the university at the time of the assaults.
The women agreed to drop the complaint and the lawsuit to the US Education Department as part of the joint settlement agreement.
Silvana Moccia will receive the largest settlement -- $900,000 -- according to the Associated Press. She is a former UConn hockey player who alleged she was kicked off the team after reporting she had been raped by a male hockey player in August 2011.
None of the men accused in the complaints faced any criminal charges.
In the settlement agreement and release statement, Uconn "categorically denies the allegations contained in the lawsuit." In the release, the plaintiffs are banned from making any disparaging comments about Uconn.
The settlement comes as earlier this month, Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights at the US Department of Education Catherine E. Lhamon warned college administrators that the department would pull a university’s funding if it showed a pattern of mishandling cases of sexual violence on campus, the Huffington Post reported.
Lhamon’s agency has now 67 colleges and universities under investigation over concerns that they did not properly handle sexual violence cases.
US Vice President Joe Biden said late April that many “of our schools aren't safe. We know the numbers. One in five [women] before they finish school will be assaulted in her college years. Colleges and universities can no longer turn a blind eye.”
According to a 2010 investigative report from the Center of Public Integrity, American colleges almost never expel those found guilty of sexual assault in campus judiciary proceedings, while many students are expelled for cheating in school tests.
Sexual assault on American campuses is only part of this horrible culture. More than half of sexual assault victims are under 18 when they're attacked – that is before the age of college, according to the Guardian.