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U.S. Department of Education Fines Yale University for Misreporting Sexual Crimes

May 20, 2013

The U.S. Department of Education fined Yale University $165,000 for Clery Act violations, including failing to report four, on-campus forcible sexual crimes during the 2001 and 2002 calendar years. The Connecticut Ivy League school also didn't delineate Yale-New Haven Hospital as being part of its campus and thus neglected to provide the federal government the required crime statistics for that location, reported U.S. News & World Report.

"For far too long, Yale has kept survivors silent and manipulated its Clery statistics to present a cheery, violence-free picture of campus life to the outside world," said Alexandra Brodsky, a recent graduate who filed a complaint in 2011.

The Clery Act requires all colleges and universities receiving federal funds to maintain and report information on crimes that occur on and near their campuses, The Huffington Post explained. Under this law, forcible sex offenses include rape, sexual assault and fondling.

Yale's fine is one of the most severe ever imposed on a U.S. university for breaking federal crime laws. Yale was fined $27,500, the maximum amount allowable, for each unreported sexual crime (the maximum was raised to $35,000 in 2012) and $55,000 for its other offenses. Yale officials have asked the DOE to lower the fine as the school has rectified the reporting problems, they said.

"The university believes that the department's imposition of maximum fines is not warranted based on the particular situations that resulted in findings of violations and, as a result, does not meaningfully advance the goals of the Clery Act," Thomas Conroy, Yale's press secretary, told The Huffington Post, additionally noting student safety is critical and the university is committed to following the Clery Act's mandates.

More than a dozen colleges have been fined over the past decade for crime reporting violations, The Chronicle of Higher Education explained. Tarleton State University (in Texas) was fined $137,500 in 2009 for not reporting three forcible sex offenses and Washington State University, $82,500, for misreporting two sex-related crimes. Eastern Michigan University paid $350,000 in 2008, the highest fine ever, for not issuing a campus alert that a student had been murdered.

A spate of more recent fines, however, has occurred. Earlier this month a settlement was reached following investigation of the University of Montana at Missoula's policies concerning sexual offenses. In April, the DOE fined the University of Texas at Arlington $82,500 for misclassifying two crimes, including a forcible sexual offense.

"No one is spared the wrath of the department for failure to comply with federal guidelines," Peter F. Lake, director of the Center for Excellence in Higher Education Law and Policy at Stetson University, told The Chronicle of Higher Education. He said he expects there will be more fines imposed in the near future.


Compiled by Doresa Banning

Sources:

"Yale Faces $165,000 Clery Act Fine For Failing To Report Sex Offenses On Campus," huffingtonpost.com, May 15, 2013, Tyler Kingcade

"Yale Fined $165,000 for Failing to Report Sexual Crimes," usnews.com, May 16, 2013, Greg Otto

"Yale U. Is Fined $165,000 Under Crime-Reporting Law," chronicle.com, May 16, 2013, Libby Sander

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