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Senator presses University of Oregon on rape allegation handling

Associated Press

EUGENE, Ore. – U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden is pushing the University of Oregon for more information on how it handled a rape allegation made against a basketball player last year.

The Democratic senator from Oregon sent a letter to the university’s president last week, saying he was troubled by the questions raised in an article published in Sports Illustrated last month. The article casts doubt on if the university properly followed its policies on student sexual misconduct when the allegation surfaced in the fall of 2016, The Register-Guard reported.

“If these reports are accurate, they raise major questions about the university’s commitment to creating and maintaining a safe campus environment,” Wyden wrote.

Criminal charges were never filed against the player, who has since transferred from the university. The player has said the encounter that occurred in Wyoming was consensual.

While the player was under investigation in Wyoming, he continued to play basketball. University officials said the information campus police and the university’s Title IX coordinator received was not enough to trigger some of the protocols for sexual misconduct cases.

As a result, the coordinator was not required to notify the student conduct and community standards director so they could together consider taking action, like suspending the player or launching an investigation on whether he violated the student code of conduct, officials said.

In the letter, Wyden asked how the university determines what information is required to trigger its sexual misconduct protocols and what penalties employees face for not following those protocols. The letter seeks answers by Nov. 20.

Tobin Klinger, a spokesman for the university, said they will respond to the senator’s questions. In this case, the university “followed the process as necessary under nuanced and challenging circumstances,” he said.

“While we understand that at first glance the selective information provided by the media may appear concerning, we would also respond that the media often does not have the entirety of the information due to privacy laws, which we vigorously enforce,” Klinger said.

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