Friday, April 20, 2012

OCR Complaint Filed Against University of Montana

It's reported this week that OCR will be investigating received a complaint filed earlier this year against the University of Montana, alleging sexual abuse and rape involving the football team. Details in the article are scarce, as the press received a redacted version of the complaint in order to protect the confidentiality of whomever filed it.

However, news out of Missoula over the last several months offers several clues as to the nature of the complaint and the likely scope of the investigation. The University of Montana football team was in the news last December, when three of its members were accused of using a date-rape drug to assault three women on campus. While one was eventually arrested and charged with rape, the University was criticized for its response, which included hiring a retired judge to conduct an independent investigation. Some saw as an unnecessary step, a delay tactic, and a public relations move. In any event, the judge's investigation eventually revealed nine cases of alleged sexual assault or attempted sexual assault involving students in the 16 months ending in December 2011. Many of these complaints were withdrawn by the victim or not pursued by the university.

Then, in February, a female student got a restraining order against the team's quarterback, and no charges were filed.

Last month, the University announced that it would not renew the contracts of its very successful head football coach Robin Pflugrad and the athletic director Jim O'Day. The University did not accuse either man of attempting to cover up a rape culture among the football team, but, reportedly, that is what many believe.

My guess is that OCR's investigation will shed some light on that very question.