End Rape on Campus group accuses UAB of mishandling sexual assault case

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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) — An advocacy group for survivors of sexual assaults on campus said Tuesday it has filed federal civil rights complaints against the University of Alabama at Birmingham and three other institutions over alleged mishandling of assault cases.

Sofie Karasek, co-founder of the group End Rape on Campus, said it has filed complaints on behalf of accusers with the U.S. Education Department’s Office of Civil Rights. The complaints are against Indiana University, Monmouth University in New Jersey, American University in Washington, D.C., and the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

The group did not provide copies of the complaints but provided screen shots of emails it sent to Education Department officials saying complaints against the four schools were attached. Representatives at Indiana, American and Monmouth universities said they had not received copies of the complaints. Education Department spokesman Jim Bradshaw said the agency does not confirm such complaints until after it begins an investigation.

At all four universities, no-contact orders between the accusers and their alleged assailants were not enforced, the group said. All of the schools’ investigations took longer than the 60 days recommended by the Education Department.

“Ultimately, all of the survivors’ perpetrators were either found not responsible or were given minimal sanctions, creating a hostile environment for the survivors and severely compromising their education experiences,” the group said in a news release.

The Indiana case was overseen by Jason Casares, the director of student ethics who resigned in late February, nearly three months after a woman alleged that he sexually assaulted her at a conference in Texas, the group said. After the accuser in the Indiana case learned learning of the allegations against Casares, she tried to appeal a finding that her alleged assailant was found not responsible. She cited a conflict of interest by Casares, but the university said it would not review the case because she missed a deadline for an appeal, the group said.

Indiana University spokesman Mark Land said the school could not comment on a specific case because of privacy rights, but said the case in question was being reviewed by “an independent Title IX authority,” as were all other sexual misconduct hearings chaired by Casares.

American and Monmouth issued statements saying they do not tolerate sexual misconduct. A message seeking comment was left for a UAB representative.

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The UAB student, who has remained anonymous, says in 2014 she was sexually assaulted by a male acquaintance.

She says instead of pursuing criminal charges, she went to the school for help, citing federal laws designed to protect students from crime and harassment on campus.

CBS42 received a digital copy from the student, who says she is the accuser listed in the complaint filed by the group.

We reached out to UAB, who issued the following statement:

“Federal student privacy laws prohibit us from publicly disclosing details of a sexual assault investigation. We work with appropriate parties on and off campus to review and ensure an appropriate resolution to any incident, as well as continue initiatives to educate and empower our students, faculty and staff to promote a campus culture that prevents and responds appropriately to sexual assault.”

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