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CALL 6: Federal legislation filed to include sexual misconduct on college transcript

Posted at 11:12 PM, Dec 09, 2016

INDIANAPOLIS -- Federal lawmakers want to include sexual misconduct on college transcripts.

The action is being taken following a Call 6 Investigation that found a student expelled for sexual misconduct can move from university to university without school officials ever knowing about their past.

Congressman Andre Carson is co-sponsoring the Safe Transfer Act which would require universities to note sexual misconduct findings on a student's transcript if that student is found to have violated the school's rules or policies with regards to sexual violence.

“Your story was a great motivating factor, tremendously so” said Carson.  “I was inspired.”

Call 6 Investigates found that universities are often hesitant to disclosesexual misconduct findings out of fear they will violate the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).

The Safe Transfer Act clarifies that FERPA allows the disclosures.

If passed by Congress and signed into law, the disclosure requirement would sunset five years after the school’s disciplinary proceeding or one year after the initiation of a proceeding, if it is still pending.

It would also allow the alleged perpetrator to be notified of the disclosure, to view a copy of the record, and be provided an opportunity to write a statement that would accompany the sexual misconduct record.

In May, Call 6 Investigates exposed the case of Valdemar Castellano, a Vincennes University student expelled after he was accused of raping and beating a student.

Castellano went on to another university in Ohio that was unaware of his background, and was arrested for groping a student months after arriving on campus.

Congressman Carson is partnering with Rep. Jackie Speier from California on the Safe Transfer Act.

“Universities and colleges are perfectly willing to include academic infractions like plagiarism on students’ records, yet students who have committed sexual assault can walk away from campus with a clean academic bill of health. This is appalling and, whether intentional or not, shows that acts of sexual violence on campus are less serious than cheating,” said Rep. Speier. “My bill will ensure that students who try to transfer schools to avoid the consequences of their violent acts will, at a minimum, face the same consequences as students who transfer because they’ve cheated on an exam.”

Dr. Jennifer Drobac, who wrote a book on sexual misconduct, said critics argue that a university can ruin a student’s life and job prospects by finding them responsible for sexual violence without due process.

Universities perform investigations into whether a student violated the code of conduct regarding sexual violence.

A university typically finds a student responsible for sexual misconduct if they believe the allegations are more likely to be true than not true, which is a lower burden of proof than the “beyond a reasonable doubt” used in criminal cases.

Title IX requires universities to investigate reports of sexual misconduct, a process that is completely separate from the criminal process.

Every college and university that accepts federal funds, even private institutions, is required to have at least one Title IX officer who investigates sexual misconduct.

Sexual misconduct is an umbrella term that includes sexual harassment, sexual assault/rape, domestic violence, and stalking.

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Universities are facing increased federal scrutiny and public expectations when it comes to how they handle sexual misconduct.

They risk losing federal funding if they fail to comply with Title IX requirements.

Call 6 Investigates found many universities either don’t track or don’t publicly release data when it comes to the number of sexual misconduct cases they handle and a breakdown of the outcomes.
Of the universities surveyed by Call 6 Investigates, IU was the only university that provided a report and full break down of its sexual misconduct cases.

According toits most recent annual report, Indiana University Bloomington received 252 reports of alleged sexual misconduct.

Forty of those cases moved forward under the University’s disciplinary process resulting in six student probations, 37 suspensions, 10 expulsions and 5 students found not responsible for the alleged sexual misconduct.