Office for Civil Rights investigates UW for handling of sexual assault cases

The UW is one of over 100 colleges currently under investigation by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) for the handling of sexual assault cases.

A press release distributed by the UW on June 15 said the university “fail[ed] to provide the student with a prompt and equitable grievance process after the student reported an incident of sexual violence,” in a particular case, breaking the rules set by Title IX of 1972.

Title IX primarily prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in any federally funded program or activity. The principal objective of Title IX is to avoid the use of federal funds “to support sex discrimination in education programs and to provide individual citizens effective protection against those practices,” according to the Department of Justice.

In the OCR’s 53-page document, “Questions and Answers for Title IX and Sexual Violence,” sexual violence is defined as “physical sexual acts perpetrated against a person’s will or where a person is incapable of giving consent.”

A complaint to the OCR must be made within 180 days of the alleged assault, unless the OCR finds good reason for it to have taken longer. If the complainant uses an institutional grievance process, or chooses to file a report through their university, and then additionally files a complaint with the OCR, the latter must be filed within 60 days after the institutional grievance process is finished.

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