A second Title IX complaint has been filed against Johns Hopkins University
By By Anna Walsh
Apr 02, 2015 at 3:33 PM
A second Title IX complaint has been filed with the Department of Education against Johns Hopkins University, according to Laura Dunn, a lawyer and the executive director of SurvJustice, a nonprofit activist group working to decrease sexual violence. Title IX protects students' rights to pursue education free from gender-based harassment including sexual assault. The case involves one individual, a "repeat offender, five students identified the same person," who allegedly has a pattern of abuse and discrimination and is still on campus, Dunn said.
"The school did have notice from more than one survivor of [the individual's] pattern of abuse in this case. There were also some people who weren't necessarily victims but had kind of been expressing concerns about his attitudes and statements about women generally on campus, so they had a lot of notice that there a potential pattern of discrimination coming from one individual," Dunn said. ". . . He was a teaching assistant and [the administration] failed to notify any of the professors in his program or [the professors] he was teaching for . . . so it was really the school wouldn't even communicate with the faculty, which I think is very surprising because, you know, they had an obligation to investigate."
The new complaint about the repeat offender has been filed with the Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights (OCR), but Dunn has not yet received notice on whether the office will open the second investigation. "It has been assigned a new case number, but it's not open yet for investigation . . . You file the complaint first and then there's an analysis of the complaint and then you have an opened investigation through a letter" from the OCR, Dunn explained.
Dunn had helped student activists in the spring of 2014 file the first complaint, which said that the university had broken Title IX when it failed to properly inform the student body about an alleged gang rape that happened at a fraternity house in March 2013. OCR subsequently opened an investigation in August 2014.
The original complaint had three co-complainants, who focused on the March 2013 incident, but "because there was so much media around it a lot of other complaints came forward," Dunn said. Other victims and student activists filed additional testimonies about their own experiences with sexual assault on Hopkins' campus or gender-based discrimination they had witnessed.
"We are up to 11 complainants at this point," Dunn said.
Through the additional complainants coming forward, SurvJustice found the five different testimonies about the same individual. Because "there's a high level of concern and very specific facts to back it, I recommended that a second complaint be opened," Dunn said.
A spokesperson from the Department of Education could not confirm that the agency had received a second Title IX complaint, saying the "policy is that we don't acknowledge the receipt of complaints until we decide to investigate it." Representatives from OCR are on Hopkins' campus this week, holding focus groups to investigate the first Title IX complaint. A list the Department of Education emailed to City Paper shows that the OCR is now investigating 113 cases at 106 colleges and universities. (Full disclosure: I work with Know Your IX, an organization that helps students organize to stop sexual violence on campuses.)