A federal agency will investigate whether the University of Connecticut responded appropriately when students reported they were sexually assaulted or harassed.

A group of UConn students have said that university officials showed them “deliberate indifference” when they reported they’d been assaulted or harassed. The decision to investigate by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights follows the office’s finding that the complaint is appropriate for an investigation.

All four previous Title IX sex discrimination complaints filed against UConn in the last five years were dismissed, according to a spokesman for the U.S. Department of Education. The reasons for the dismissals include that the allegations failed to state a violation of Title IX or because the complaint was identical to allegations already being investigated by another state entity.

Responding to news that the students’ allegations would be investigated, UConn’s general counsel Richard Orr released the following statement.

“The university expected and welcomes this review by OCR. We look forward to working with their staff as they examine the policies and practices that UConn employs to prevent sexual assault and discrimination, to educate our community on these important issues, and to provide victims with the resources they need.”

In a letter notifying UConn that an investigation would be launched, a civil rights attorney at the federal office wrote, “that opening the complaint for investigation in no way implies that OCR has made a determination with regards to [the complaint’s] merits.”

There is no deadline for conducting this investigation, though a spokesman recently told The Connecticut Mirror that the agency does have goals.

“OCR’s goal is to resolve complaints within 180 days of their receipt. However, some complaints may take longer to resolve in light of the complexity of the issues, facts and circumstances of the individual case,” said David Thomas.

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Jacqueline Rabe Thomas

Jacqueline was CT Mirror’s Education and Housing Reporter, and an original member of the CT Mirror staff, joining shortly before our January 2010 launch. Her awards include the best-of-show Theodore A. Driscoll Investigative Award from the Connecticut Society of Professional Journalists in 2019 for reporting on inadequate inmate health care, first-place for investigative reporting from the New England Newspaper and Press Association in 2020 for reporting on housing segregation, and two first-place awards from the National Education Writers Association in 2012. She was selected for a prestigious, year-long Propublica Local Reporting Network grant in 2019, exploring a range of affordable and low-income housing issues. Before joining CT Mirror, Jacqueline was a reporter, online editor and website developer for The Washington Post Co.’s Maryland newspaper chains. Jacqueline received an undergraduate degree in journalism from Bowling Green State University and a master’s in public policy from Trinity College.

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