Agency probes Notre Dame for possible Title IX violations

(File Photo)

SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) — The University of Notre Dame is among more than 165 colleges under federal investigation for possible violations of Title IX, a gender-equity law, related to sexual violence on campus.

As of Feb. 24, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights was investigating 208 cases for issues of sexual violence at 167 colleges and universities.

The investigation of Notre Dame was opened on Feb. 19, according to the federal agency. It’s unclear whether a formal complaint of a compliance review prompted the investigation.

The accused student hasn’t been enrolled at Notre Dame since last spring, nearly a year before school officials learned about the charge, university spokesman Dennis Brown told the South Bend Tribune. The university hasn’t released any other details about the investigation.

Details of Title XI investigations, including subjects and allegations, usually aren’t released until the cases are resolved, which can take months or years.

Indiana University in Bloomington, Valparaiso University and Vincennes University also are under investigation for possible Title IX violations.

Since April 2011, when the Office of Civil Rights began ordering colleges to resolve student reports of sexual assault, the number of federal investigations into possible Title XI violations related to sexual assaults on college campuses has been steadily growing.

Last fall, the Office of Civil Rights determined that Michigan State University and the University of Virginia had violated Title XI and each had a “hostile environment.” Both schools agreed to make changes to their procedures to ensure they comply with Title XI requirements.

Notre Dame has previously undergone one other Office of Civil Rights investigation. The investigation was prompted by Saint Mary’s College student Elizabeth “Lizzy” Seeberg’s decision to commit suicide in September 2010 after accusing Notre Dame football player Prince Shembo of committing sexual battery.

The investigation was resolved in June 2011 after Notre Dame agreed to change its handling of investigations into campus sexual assaults.

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