The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Steve Carpinelli (202) 481-1225

Lax Federal Enforcement in Campus Sexual Assault Cases

Department of Education’s Civil Rights Office Rarely Investigates and Almost Never Sanctions Schools


Education Department is charged with enforcing laws on how schools deal
with sexual assault, but its Office of Civil Rights rarely investigates
student allegations of botched proceedings. When cases do go forward,
the civil rights office rarely rules against the schools, and virtually
never issues any sanctions against institutions, according to an
investigation by the Center for Public Integrity.

at the civil rights office have said punishing schools is unnecessary
and impractical; the office's ultimate potential penalty of rescinding
federal funds is enough to scare schools straight with a few
well-placed words. And by law, the office has few tools for
intermediate sanctions; it can't issue fines, for instance. But critics
see it differently; they say the office's enforcement of how schools
handle cases involving alleged sexual assaults is overly friendly,
which ultimately lets colleges - and rapists - off the hook.

The story, "Lax Enforcement of Title IX in Campus Sexual Assault Cases," is the second of three new pieces being released this week as part of the Center's Sexual Assault on Campus
series. A story released Wednesday revealed that students found
"responsible" for sexual assaults on campus often face little or no
punishment from school judicial systems, while their victims lives are
frequently turned upside down. Three earlier pieces in the series ran
last December.

Center's package marks a number of significant collaborative efforts,
including a series of three stories and a Talk of the Nation call-in
program from National Public Radio News. The NPR Series
was produced by a special NPR Investigative Unit with reports airing on
Morning Edition and All Things Considered. The Center for Public
Integrity also collaborated with the Investigative News Network,
a coalition of some two dozen news organizations dedicated to watchdog
journalism. The Center's pieces will be accompanied by localized campus
assault stories from five members of the network - the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism, the New England Center for Investigative Reporting, Texas Watchdog, the Rocky Mountain News Network, and Investigate West.

network was formed last summer following a three-day meeting of mostly
nonprofit investigative journalism groups in New York. The mission of
the network is to facilitate the work and public reach of its member
organizations, to foster high-quality, original investigative
journalism, and to hold government and corporate power accountable at
the local, national, and international levels.

The Center for Public Integrity is a nonprofit organization dedicated to producing original, responsible investigative journalism on issues of public concern. The Center is non-partisan and non-advocacy. We are committed to transparent and comprehensive reporting both in the United States and around the world.