Marquette sexual assault allegations under federal investigation

The Department of Education confirmed it is reviewing Marquette under the Clery Act, investigating the procedures followed by the university after allegations of sexual assault against several student athletes surfaced last semester.

“As it has in other cases involving reports of sexual violence on college campuses, the U.S. Department of Education is conducting a paper program review of Marquette University relative to reporting required under the Clery Act,” said Kate Venne, director of university communication.

Jane Glickman, a spokeswoman for the Department of Education, confirmed the federal agency has opened a program review but declined to discuss details as it is an ongoing investigation.

Two separate instances of sexual assault were reported to Department of Public Safety on Oct. 31, 2010 and Feb. 27, 2011. The Chicago Tribune headlined a story on the instances this summer and followed up with another article with one of the female accusers this fall.

The Clery Act is “a federal statute requiring all colleges and universities participating in federal student aid programs to publish an annual security report that accurately discloses campus crime statistics and security information,” the federal student aid website said.

The site said the Department of Education may conduct reviews to assess compliance to the Clery Act.

“A review may be initiated when a complaint is received, a media event raises certain concerns, the school’s independent audit identifies serious non compliance or through a review selection process that may also coincide with state reviews performed by the FBI’s Criminal Justice Information Service (CJIS) Audit Unit,” the site said.

Provost John Pauly said the university received a letter informing them of the review in early October. Students did not hear about it until news broke last week.

Pauly said the university was not trying to withhold information from the students, but the review wasn’t a public event to announce. He compared the review to a type of “internal audit.”

“They (the Department of Education) don’t announce that they are investigating a school,” Pauly said.

Pauly said possible consequences if Marquette is found of wrongdoing in the review could range from changes in public safety and how alerts are handled to university fines.

Pauly said the letter mentioned the Chicago Tribune’s coverage of the university’s response to the alleged instances of sexual abuse by Marquette student-athletes last year.

Venne said the university has done everything to acknowledge and rectify its mistakes in handling the allegations.

“Marquette has publicly acknowledged mistakes made in dealing with reports of sexual assault involving student athletes on our campus,” Venne said. “The focus of our efforts moving forward is on protecting our students, providing support to sexual assault victims and working with our entire campus community and beyond to improve our education and procedures around this critical issue.”

Pauly said Marquette is working with the Department of Education and has provided them with more than 6,000 pages of documentation. He said the university is very careful about documenting and collecting data.

“The federal requirements for reporting incidents on university campuses are outlined in the Clery Act,” Venne said. “Marquette fully complies with this law.”

Pauly said the university will address any issues raised in the review.

“We never know what to expect until we find the final review,” Pauly said. “We’ve tried very hard to be in compliance.”