Feds say U of M, MSU sexual assaults under investigation

Feb 26, 2014

If school administrators know, or should know, about a sexual assault involving students, they have to act fast – and they have to "address" the "effects" of the assault. 

That's according to federal law, under Title IX.

But neither the University of Michigan, nor Michigan State University, handled sexual assaults the right way, according to complaints sent to the U.S. Department of Education Office of Civil Rights.

The agency won't say much more than that, and it won't confirm that the University of Michigan investigation is about an alleged rape in 2009 by former Michigan football player Brendan Gibbons.

Gibbons was never charged and he played for the university until just a couple of months ago.

At MSU, investigators say they've asked students from sororities, fraternities, the band and other groups to talk with them about the climate on campus. 

Sexual assault investigations are up nationwide 

The Office of Civil Rights currently has 41 sexual assault investigations under way nationwide.

That's way up from just a couple years ago: OCR investigated only 17 complaints for the whole of  2012.

The spike may be because sexual assault on campus, and schools' legal responsibility to victims, is getting a lot more publicity of late

The OCR sent out a strongly worded letter to schools making it clear that they are required to thoroughly investigate sexual assault complaints.

And survivors of sexual assaults on campus joined other student advocates to form "Know your IX," a group that says if students know they're protected under federal law, they won't let schools brush off their sexual assault complaints.