Occidental College Sexual Assault Response Subject Of Federal Complaints

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Courtesy of The Huff Post

Occidental College in Los Angeles faces two federal complaints alleging it failed to adequately report and adjudicate sexual assaults on campus. (Image via Wikimedia Commons:

Occidental College in Los Angeles faces two federal complaints alleging it failed to adequately report and adjudicate sexual assaults on campus.

Female Occidental College students, faculty and alumni say in a federal complaint that the Los Angeles school failed to take campus sex crimes seriously by improperly reporting and adjudicating sexual assaults and covering up rapes.

The 250-page complaint filed by a group of 37 Thursday with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights says the school maintained a hostile environment for sexual assault victims and their advocates and violated federal Title IX laws against sexual discrimination.

Even when the school’s investigations have found wrongdoing, punishment has been light, the complaint says. One student found responsible for raping a woman was given the punishment of writing a five-page book report, according to the complaint.

“I’ve seen some of the outputs of these so-called ‘educational sanctions’ like book reports and apology letters and they’re abysmal,” said Danielle Dirks, a sociology professor who specializes in crime and punishment and one of the women who filed the complaint. “The fact that Occidental has invited rapists back to campus and even told survivors not to worry because ‘he’s reformed now’ after these types of inadequate sanctions is an abomination.”

Six of the women who signed on to the complaint also retained attorney Gloria Allred. Allred’s office did not return emails from The Huffington Post.

The filing follows an April 1 complaint against Occidental under the Clery Act by some of the same women, alleging the school underreports campus sexual assaults, discourages victims from reporting attacks and fails to issue timely crime reports. The college was criticized in February by women who said the campus wasn’t notified in a timely manner about sexual assaults.

“Sexual assault on college campuses is a nationwide problem, from which Occidental College (Oxy) regrettably is not exempt,” said Jim Tranquada, the college director of communications. “We take this issue very seriously, and will not tolerate sexual misconduct.

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