Saturday, September 01, 2012

Legal Advocacy Groups Urge Department of Education to Investigate Penn State

The ACLU and the Women's Sports Foundations have urged the Department of Education to investigate whether Penn State's response to known incidents of sexual abuse by former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky violated Title IX.  According to this article, the Department hasn't ruled out possibility of an investigation, and some experts think that an investigation seems likely.  If the findings of Penn State's internal investigation (known as the Freeh Report) are true, the situation at Penn State contains examples of what courts and the Department have already said constitutes "deliberate indifference" and the basis for institution liability under Title IX -- examples such as suppressing reports of assault by intimidation and allowing athletics to handle its own cases outside the university process, according to Professor Nancy Hogshead-Makar, quoted in the article.  It is also possible that the Department would investigate potential violations of the Clery Act, which requires universities to disclose information crime on campus.  Yet Title IX gives the Department more leverage, since it has the theoretical power to revoke all of Penn State's hundreds of millions of dollars in federal funding.  As the article points out, a Title IX investigation could also inspire private litigation by victims, who could bring a claim for damages under the law.

For a related, earlier post, see this summary of  Professors Joanna Grossman and Debbie Brake's Title IX analysis of the Penn State case for the website