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Bethany College among 55 under federal review

WHEELING, W.Va. – Bethany College is among 55 colleges and universities across the country under investigation for possible violations of federal law over the handling of sexual violence and harassment complaints.

The U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights released the list Thursday. Along with Bethany College, other nearby institutions under investigation include Denison University in Ohio; Ohio State University; Carnegie Mellon University; Penn State; and the West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine.

The Title IX law prohibits gender discrimination at schools that receive federal funds. It is the same law that guarantees women equal access to sports, but it also regulates institutions’ handling of sexual violence and increasingly is being used by victims who say their schools failed to protect them.

Bethany College spokeswoman Rebecca Rose said Bethany’s inclusion stems from an alleged sexual assault that happened last fall. She said college officials believe they handled the situation correctly.

“Upon the assault being reported to the college … law enforcement was immediately contacted by college personnel. At that time, law enforcement launched an investigation that ran concurrent to the internal student conduct investigation that the college initiated,” she said. “The matter was investigated by local and State Police and taken to the Brooke County grand jury, where they did not produce an indictment in the case.

“We feel strongly that we have fully complied with both the spirit and the letter of the law as it relates to both the Clery Act and The Campus Sexual Violence Elimination Act. The college always reserves the right to reopen any investigation if new evidence is provided. Because the safety of our students is our priority, we take any allegations of sexual assault very seriously.”

The list’s release comes as the Obama administration seeks to shed greater transparency on the issue of sexual assault in higher education and how it is being handled…

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