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Harvard Law Mismanaged Sexual Assault Allegations, Department of Education Finds
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The Department of Education found that Harvard's policy on sexual assault violated Title IX.

Summary: The Department of Education concluded that Harvard Law School violated Title IX in its handling of sexual assault allegations. reports that not only did Harvard Law School take over a year to resolve a sexual harassment complaint, but also failed to allow the complainant to participate in the appeal process. The Department of Education released a report on Tuesday detailing the school’s handling of the incident.


The investigation ultimately found that Harvard Law School has violated Title IX by the manner in which it has handled sexual assault allegations. In the current case, the decision to dismiss the accused attacker from the school was overturned in the appeal process.

The University of Virginia was in an uproar after Rolling Stone published an article regarding its sexual assault policies.

The Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights discovered that the school’s policies on sexual assault allegations did not meet Title IX’s federal requirement that mandates schools must provide a “prompt and equitable response” to sexual harassment claims. The investigation reported that two student complaints of sexual assault were not handled properly.

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Now, Harvard Law School must adopt the “preponderance of the evidence” standard for determining guilt in these cases. Prior to the investigation, the stricter “clear and convincing” evidence standard was used.

In May, the Department of Education released a list of schools that had violated Title IX.

Over the summer, Harvard created a new sexual assault policy. The new policy uses the “preponderance” standard. An office of professionals was also created to both conduct and investigate sexual assault allegations.

Harvard released a statement saying, “As the conversation about sexual assault at colleges and universities spread to campuses across the nation, Harvard recognized that, like many peer institutions around the country, we could and should do more.”

Many Harvard students asked for delays for their exams in light of the protesting of the deaths of Eric Garner and Michael Brown.

In October, 28 faculty members penned an op-ed to the Boston Globe. The piece stated the faculty members’ “strong objections” to the policies created over the summer. However, the law school will still follow those rules as part of the agreement reached with the Department of Education.

The Department of Education launched its investigation at Harvard in 2011 after a faculty member from the New England School of Law tipped off the Department of Education to several Harvard policies that violated Title IX.

Although an agreement has been reached with the law school, an investigation is still ongoing into Harvard College, the undergraduate school.

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Harvard is not alone in being under scrutiny. Several other Massachusetts universities are under investigation by the Department of Education for possible Title IX violations, including Emerson College, Boston University, the University of Massachusetts—Dartmouth, Brandeis, the University of Massachusetts—Amherst, Hampshire College, and Berklee College.

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