Ohio State University has closed its Sexual Civility and Empowerment unit amid concerns that the organization did not adequately report sexual assaults.
The unit was suspended in February after concerns came to light that it was “not properly supporting victims and was mismanaged,” according to a statement from Ohio State. The concerns prompted a review completed on May 28, which showed the unit did not properly document or report sexual assault complaints by students.
The review discovered the Sexual Civility and Empowerment unit failed to comply with university policy in several incidents, including some that occurred off campus, in other cities and before a sexual assault survivor enrolled at the school, according to OSU. Some incidents were not reported to police or the university in a timely manner, the review found.
Ohio State requires all employees to report sexual assault and state and federal laws require the reporting of sexual assault on or near college campuses. To address issues stemming from the unit’s possible failures, Ohio State has hired the law firm Cozen O’Connor to create a new “best-in-class model to support victims of sexual assault.,” according to the university.
Ohio State is continuing to investigate the unit’s issues and plans to reach out to students who contacted the unit to ensure that they have received necessary support.
The Sexual Civility and Empowerment unit at Ohio State was opened in 2015. That year Ohio State launched a comprehensive prevention and support effort to combat sexual misconduct and relationship violence and ensure fairness in the process used to review allegations, according to the school.
“Ohio State will do all that we can to be a national leader in preventing and responding to sexual misconduct,” said president Michael Drake in a prepared statement. “Our campuses must be safe places for all members of our community to learn, work and grow.”
The closure of the unit comes just months after Gov. John Kasich asked the Ohio Department of Higher Education to review all Title IX enforcement as it pertains to sexual assault on college campuses. Title IX is the a gender-equity law used to prevent discrimination at American colleges that receive federal financial assistance.
Ohio State is already investigating accusations against a former sports doctor who has been accused of sexual misconduct.
Richard Strauss, who was primarily a doctor for OSU’s wrestling team, worked at the university from the mid-1970s to the mid-1990s and died in 2005.
Since the probe was first launched, the university has expanded it to include reports from male student athletes involved in football, cheer leading, gymnastics, fencing, hockey and swimming. The Ohio Attorney General’s Office has appointed the law firm Porter,Wright, Morris & Arthur to investigate the allegations.
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