CALL 6: Feds find no Title IX violations for IU in handling of ex-student's 2015 rape report

Office for Civil Rights investigated case

BLOOMINGTON, Ind.--  After nearly two years of investigating, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights has determined Indiana University did not violate Title IX in its handling of an alleged 2015 sexual assault involving two then-students.

“I think that this is absolutely wrong,” said Hailey Rial, a former IU student who filed the Title IX complaint against IU. “I’m truly disappointed in this. It just shows survivors that we can do all we can to get justice, but we still won’t get it."

Title IX requires universities to investigate reports of sexual misconduct, and requires universities to create an educational environment free of sex discrimination, including sexual harassment.

Rial filed the Title IX complaint against IU on March 3, 2016, accusing IU of failing to follow proper procedures following her alleged rape, including taking too long to investigate and initially charging her to move dorms.

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Rial reported she was raped at an off-campus fraternity recruiting event during her freshman year.

She went to the hospital for a rape kit and filed a police report. 

“I was sexually assaulted by an acquaintance that I had met that night," Rial said. “I had a lot to drink that night, so I couldn't consent. He assaulted me in one of the bedrooms."

Rial said the university investigated her alleged perpetrator for sexual misconduct, but he was found not responsible.

No criminal charges were filed.

“I ended up switching dorms because my perpetrator was hanging around my dorm, and they charged me a fee to move dorms, so I had to fight with them to get those fees revoked,” said Rial.

Rial said her case was handled by Jason Casares, who resigned amid allegations he sexually assaulted a woman at a conference.

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Indiana University policy states sexual misconduct investigations should be completed within 60 days “absent any special circumstances.”

In the federal Office for Civil Rights decision handed down Tuesday, the feds found IU took 132 days to investigate, but determined the delay was reasonable due to the “unusually high number of witnesses,” including 25 witnesses who were interviewed by IU.

The U.S. Department of Education found IU handled Rial’s case equitably and did not subject her to a sexually hostile environment.

Although Rial was initially charged to move dorms, the university later absorbed the cost after accommodating her request.

“The university also waived fees (Rial) incurred in dropping courses and withdrawing from the university,” read the OCR report.

The federal Office for Civil Rights also determined Casares acted appropriately toward Rial and witnesses, and that he complied with Title IX.

“OCR also found no evidence that the accusations against the Office of Student Conduct Director and his departure from the university created a sexually hostile environment for (Rial),” read the findings.

Indiana University investigated the fraternity where the alleged sexual assault happened at an off-campus event.

IU found the fraternity responsible for creating an unsafe environment for students stemming from the 2015 rush incident, placed the fraternity on disciplinary probation through December 31, 2016, and required them to host a bystander intervention training for all members and create a comprehensive plan to be proactive in preventing sexual assault.

Call 6 Investigates reached out IU Wednesday for a comment on the federal government’s findings and we are waiting on a response.

"We appreciate the findings of the Office of Civil Rights, we understand how personal and difficult these cases are for those involved," said IU spokesperson Chuck Carney.  "These findings have presented an opportunity to examine our practices surrounding these issues and ensure we are handling them in the proper way."

“While the university did correct some of their actions, they still broke the law in many ways,” said Rial. “They charged me fees that I shouldn’t have been charged in the first place. I had to get a lawyer to fight that. I shouldn’t have had to do that.”

Rial transferred to a different university after her alleged rape.

“The director of my case was investigated for sexual assault himself and the OCR saw no bias there? That’s obvious bias,” said Rial.  

Records show the U.S. Department of Education still has more than a dozen open investigations at colleges and universities in Indiana including Ball State, Grace College and Seminary, Notre Dame, IU, Hanover College, Purdue University, and Valparaiso University.

 

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