Harvard Law School responded improperly to two alleged student sexual assaults, and its sexual harassment and sexual assault policies violated a federal regulation, the U.S. Dept. of Education’s civil rights office announced Tuesday.
The school’s policies did not comply with the federal Title IX regulation requiring a prompt and equitable response to complaints of sexual assault and sexual harassment, the education department found after an investigation by its Office for Civil Rights.
Title IX, covering education programs, is intended to protect against discrimination based on sex.
“The Law School also did not appropriately respond to two student complaints of sexual assault,” said a department news release.
Additionally, law school policy barred complainants from filing a criminal complaint if they were to file a Title IX complaint with the law school.
LAW SCHOOL MUST REVIEW PAST SEXUAL HARASSMENT COMPLAINTS
Harvard Law has agreed to review sexual harassment complaints from the previous two years to see if the were dealt with in accordance with Title IX, and “provide any additional remedies necessary for the complainants,” the department said.
The department’s reporting on its civil rights investigation cited:
• Months of delays in the case of one sexual assault complaint
• Exclusion of the complainant in that case from an extended appeal process that included the accused, and reversed an earlier finding against the accused
• Application of a “clear and convincing” standard of evidence, more rigorous than the mandated “preponderance of evidence.” (The law school adopted the required evidence standard during the civil rights investigation, the department said.)
In issuing its findings Tuesday, the department announced Harvard University and Harvard Law had agreed to comply with Title IX.
EDUCATION DEPARTMENT PRAISES HARVARD OFFICIALS
Catherine Lhamon, the department’s assistant secretary for civil rights, credited Harvard president Drew Faust and Harvard Law dean Martha Minow for their leadership in coming to an agreement while considering such types of offenses.