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Wednesday, November 20, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  Washington

WSU under fourth investigation for its handling of sexual assault claims

UPDATED: Mon., April 10, 2017

The Bryan Hall clocktower at Washington State University glows at dawn on Sept. 17, 2016. A Pullman police sergeant could face charges in connection with a sexual misconduct allegation by an 18-year-old WSU student. (Tyler Tjomsland / The Spokesman-Review)
The Bryan Hall clocktower at Washington State University glows at dawn on Sept. 17, 2016. A Pullman police sergeant could face charges in connection with a sexual misconduct allegation by an 18-year-old WSU student. (Tyler Tjomsland / The Spokesman-Review)

Federal officials are investigating how Washington State University handled a female student’s allegations of sexual assault and harassment to determine whether the school violated the federal gender-equity law known as Title IX.

The U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights filed a complaint on March 20 and gave the university two weeks to turn over documents related to the case. The office had previously filed three similar complaints against the university beginning in 2014.

WSU spokesman Rob Strenge wrote in an email that WSU will work with the Office for Civil Rights to “make any recommended improvements.” He said university officials believe, however, that it fully complied with the law.

Documents published by the Chonicle of Higher Education indicate the female student told WSU officials in 2015 that she had been sexually assaulted by another student. She claims she was denied “a prompt and equitable grievance process” and faced retaliation from the university.

The complaint was made as WSU works to reform its student-conduct policies under pressure from a state appellate court and complaints about the school’s treatment of members of the Cougar football team. Drugging and sexual assault claims by students also made headlines last year.

WSU was among an intitial group of 55 universities under investigation for possible Title IX violations when the Education Department announced it was stepping up enforcement in May 2014.

That number has since grown.

Other Washington colleges currently under investigation include Whitworth University, Eastern Washington University and the University of Washington.

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