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Feds open third Title IX investigation at IU

Posted at 11:42 AM, Jun 01, 2016
and last updated 2016-06-01 22:17:23-04

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- The U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights has opened a third Title IX investigation at Indiana University Bloomington.

Records show the federal government launched a new case at IU Bloomington on May 17, 2016.

Title IX requires universities to investigate reports of sexual misconduct.

The reasons behind federal Title IX investigations are typically not made public before they’re resolved, however, former student Hailey Rial said the Office for Civil Rights notified her on May 19 that they would be investigating her case.

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Rial said she was raped at an off-campus fraternity recruiting event during her freshman year at IU's Bloomington campus in August 2015.

“I was sexually assaulted by an acquaintance that I had met that night," Rial said in an interview with Call 6 Investigates earlier this year. “I had a lot to drink that night, so I couldn't consent. He assaulted me in one of the bedrooms."

Rial went to the hospital for a rape kit and filed a police report.

Rial said the university investigated her alleged perpetrator for sexual misconduct, but the university found he was not responsible.

“They said there wasn’t enough evidence,” said Rial.

With the help of the national group End Rape on Campus, Rial filed a complaint against IU Bloomington with the federal Office for Civil Rights, alleging they failed to follow proper Title IX procedures.

“I ended up switching dorms because my perpetrator was hanging around my dorm, and they charged me a fee to move dorms, so I had to fight with them to get those fees revoked,” said Rial.

Rial said her case was handled by Jason Casares, who resigned amid allegations he sexually assaulted a woman at a conference.

MORE | IU ethics director resigns amid sexual assault allegations
Casares was not criminally charged, and a review found no bias or influence in 17 sexual misconduct cases.

MORE | IU review: No bias or influence with sexual misconduct claims

“I think my case should be retried but the school disagrees,” said Rial. “Hopefully there’s repercussions for the university.”

The other federal investigations at IU Bloomington have been open since March 2014 and June 2015.

“Federal enforcement is still pretty opaque,” said Sara Lipka, senior editor at the Chronicle for Higher Education. “Some of the investigations are based on complaints that students have filed. And then some are based on what they call ‘compliance review’ where federal officials decide to check up on a certain place.”

The Chronicle for Higher Education created a Title IX tracker where you can search for institutions under federal investigation for how the campus handles sexual misconduct.

Records show the Office for Civil Rights currently has open investigations at five institutions in Indiana – three at IU Bloomington, two at Vincennes University and one each at Grace College and Theological Seminary, Notre Dame and Valparaiso University.

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.

“This has never happened, but it’s still a lever that colleges have to contend with,” said Lipka.

Earlier this year, Emily Springston, IU’s Chief Student Welfare and Title IX Officer, declined to comment on specific student cases citing privacy laws.

“It’s like an audit, where they ask to see how we do this work and we’ve been working with them lots and lots of information,” said Springston in an interview with Call 6 Investigates in April.

Call 6 Investigates asked Springston about the third case opened on May 17, 2016.

“It’s not new to us, in that we were already aware of the complaint and have been actively working with (the Office for Civil Rights) on it, prior to them issuing this notice of a new case,” said Springston.