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Liberty University Faces New Scrutiny Over Handling Sexual Assault Reports | American Universities

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<figcaption class= A sign marks the entrance to Liberty University. Photo: Steve Helber / AP

In 2000, a 15-year-old boy reported being sexually assaulted at a Liberty camp by Jesse Matthew Jr, a LU football player at the time, after of which Liberty allegedly threatened to accuse the teenager, Jane Doe 12, of having a file of a false report. Matthew murdered two women, Morgan Harrington in 2009 and Hannah Graham in 2014. He is currently serving a life sentence.

Another 10 women, who had been students, employees or attendees of LU programs, told ProPublica that they chose not to report their violations to campus officials because they were concerned about being punished.

Another student, Diane Stargel, came forward to claim that after another student raped her at an off-campus party, a counselor asked her to sign a "victim notice" but warned her that she may have broken the Liberty Way. Stargel did not formally report having been attacked.

"I loved Liberty and now I feel like I can't trust them to do me justice," confirmed Jane 16. "The Liberty Way scared me to report."

Many people think this is something new, but it is not. Assaults on campus have been covered up for years

Josie Young

But university students, given the institution's emphasis on "the road," did not come out against Liberty's handling of the allegations and many on campus refused to discuss the issue.

Josie Young, a spokeswoman for Justice for Janes, a Liberty campus reform group, said a third party should be called in to investigate the university's Human Resources and Title IX offices for potential areas of corruption and maladministration. Young said a temporary student group investigating Title IX issues had been closed.

“Many people think this is something new, but it is not. Assaults on campus have been covered up for years. "Support for the group, Young added, comes primarily from female students." Many of the male students think this is a female problem, but it is not. It is a problem. that affects everyone ".

A university spokesperson told The Guardian: "Liberty University prefers not to comment publicly on litigation, but the university wishes to affirm its commitment to take all allegations of sexual assault seriously and in accordance with the law."

Daniel Harris, student and founder-organizer of the Janes group, said that he remained deeply concerned that a university that claims

Falwell Jr, Harris recalls, was known for changing clothes in open calls for applications. students, and for doing pelvic thrust exercises or for "liking" bikini suits. -eds on social media. "Many students did not like it and thought it was not professional."

The Falwell scandal , along with two dozen women claiming his sexual assault, has altered the image of Liberty. "Having a bulwark in the Christian academy is great as long as it adheres to the values ​​it professes," says Harris. rtad is no longer a morally bulletproof institution above criticism ".

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