U.S. News


McCaskill Says Schools Poorly Handling Sex Assault Cases

Sen. Claire McCaskill's survey found that more than 40 percent of the schools surveyed hadn't reported a sexual assault crime in five years.
Posted at 9:24 PM, Jul 09, 2014

U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill of Missouri said Wednesday colleges and universities are essentially breaking the law when it comes to their handling of sexual assault cases on their campuses. (Via Getty Images)

That claim comes after the release of a national survey that suggests major lapses in how higher learning institutions handle and report sexual assaults. Of the 236 schools that participated, the survey found that some schools didn't provide training for faculty, staff or students and weren't aware of the scope of the problem. (Via U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill)

But the most damning evidence found within the survey: "More than 40% of schools in the national sample have not conducted a single [sexual assault] investigation in the past five years." 

"Clearly that means they are not addressing the problem that we have. So, it was really an eye-opener." (Via MSNBC)

While the survey outlines poor practices by colleges and universities, Time explains that these schools are breaking the law under Title IX, a federal law that enforces equity and prohibits discrimination at federally-funded schools. Time reports, "Schools are legally required to address sex crimes and sex harassment under Title IX."

This survey comes on the heels of a White House initiative earlier this year to address the problem of sexual assault on campus. But McCaskill's survey is already seeing some pushback. 

The general counsel for the American Council on Education (ACE), which represents nearly 2,000 schools across the country, said the survey was biased. Politico reports, "The survey questions didn’t offer colleges and universities an option to answer 'not applicable.' So, for instance, when the survey asked schools if they educate fraternities and sororities on sexual assault, schools with no Greek life had no choice but to answer in the negative."

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports the ACE was "disappointed" in the findings. The paper adds pushback could mean heavy scrutiny from schools on McCaskill's upcoming bipartisan legislation to address handling sexual assault cases. 

McCaskill's survey doesn't outline specific solutions for turning the tide on this issue, but Time reports she plans to offer suggestions in an upcoming bill — which could be introduced by the time students head back to school this fall.