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Federal investigation opened into JHU response to alleged rape

The U.S. Department of Education has opened a formal investigation into the Johns Hopkins University's response to an alleged rape at a fraternity house, the university disclosed Tuesday.

A group of students filed a complaint with the department's Office of Civil Rights earlier this year, arguing that the university had violated the Clery Act and Title IX, federal laws that dictate how crimes like sexual assault should be handled by universities and reported to the public. Officials said they were notified of the investigation on Friday.

In an email to the campus community, President Ronald J. Daniels said the university "pledged our full cooperation" with the investigation.

"Sexual violence on our campuses, or anywhere, is unacceptable," he wrote. "It tears at the fabric of our university community; threatens the ability of our students, faculty and staff to pursue scholarship and discovery; and diminishes our capacity to realize our fullest individual and collective potential."

Hopkins will join dozens of other universities across the country that are facing investigations over whether their handling of reported sexual assault cases violates Title IX, a law more commonly known for ensuring gender equity in sports. In Maryland, Morgan State University and Frostburg State University are also under investigation.

In the Hopkins case, a female Towson student told police last year she had gone to a party at an off-campus Hopkins fraternity house, where she had a series of consensual sexual encounters before being raped by more than one man. Baltimore police and the university investigated the incident, but Hopkins did not issue a crime warning to the campus. Prosecutors declined to charge anyone in the case.

Dozens of Hopkins students protested in May after the case became public, saying that they felt sexual assault was swept under the rug at the college and that administrators had not been transparent. At the time, Daniels pledged an internal investigation into the university's response, and on Tuesday, said that review is nearing completion.

cwells@baltsun.com

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Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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