LYNCHBURG, Va. (WFXR) — Several months after U.S. Sens. Tim Kaine and Mark Warner first urged the Department of Education (DOE) to investigate claims about Liberty University creating an unsafe campus environment and mismanaging Title IX accusations of sexual misconduct, they confirmed to WFXR News that a federal investigation is now underway.
“I’m glad the Department of Education is investigating Liberty’s handling of sexual assault. I hope the Department looks into it thoroughly,” Kaine told WFXR News on Friday, April 29. “As I’ve said, any campus policy that deters or discourages a survivor of sexual assault from speaking out and seeking justice is wrong. Students who bravely speak out deserve to be heard and to have their claims taken seriously.”
Warner also sent a statement to WFXR News on Friday about the DOE’s investigation:
“I’m disturbed by the allegations against Liberty University of mishandled reports of sexual assault – including a complaint filed as recently as this week. For the last several months, I’ve been calling for accountability and action. I commend the Department of Education for launching an investigation into whether Liberty University violated its legal and moral obligation to protect victims of assault. I expect the university to fully comply, and I’ll be closely following the outcome of this investigation. I applaud the bravery of survivors for coming forward and fighting for the justice they are owed.”
In addition, WFXR News received a comment from Drew LaFramboise, the lawyer who filed the most recent lawsuit against Liberty University on behalf of a Jane Doe:
“What the Department of Education investigation demonstrates is that scrutiny over Liberty’s handling of sexual assault and harassment on campus, and the school’s Title IX and Clery Act compliance in general, has gone beyond individual lawsuits and become a matter of substantial concern to the federal government. This is a significant step, and one that hopefully will lead to widespread change at the university.”
This news comes after at least 24 people came forward to accuse the university of creating a campus environment that increases the likelihood of sexual assault, as well as not taking action following such incidents.
WFXR News also reached out to Liberty University about the federal investigation and received the following response:
“Liberty University welcomes the U.S. Department of Education’s review of our Clery Act compliance program. We have pledged our full cooperation and look forward to the opportunity to strengthen and enhance our program through this assessment process. We have also committed to work collaboratively with the Department to address any potential compliance gaps identified through the review. The University supports and embraces both the letter and the spirit of the Clery Act, which is ‘to provide students, employees and their families with accurate, complete and timely information about campus safety to better inform future decisions.’ Our Clery Compliance Officer, in the Office of Equity and Compliance, works closely with the Liberty University Police Department and campus partners to prioritize campus safety and fulfill the requirements of the Clery Act. More information about our Clery Act Compliance Program, including our most recent Annual Campus Security and Fire Safety Report, is available here: https://www.liberty.edu/police/campus-safety-and-security/.”
This is a developing story.