Harvard Law School Found In Violation Of Title IX For Mishandling Student Sexual Assault Complaints

Harvard University and its Law School violated Title IX by having sexual harassment and sexual assault policies that did not comply with federal standards, the Department of Education announced Tuesday.

According to a statement from the DOE’s Office for Civil Rights, the specific violations include a failure “to comply with the Title IX requirements for the prompt and equitable response to complaints of sexual harassment and sexual assault.” Harvard Law School also improperly used a “clear and convincing” evidence standard in complaints, rather than the federally required “preponderance of evidence.”

Additionally, OCR found that Harvard Law School “did not appropriately respond to two student complaints of sexual assault.”

HLS must now update their policies to fully meet Title IX sexual harassment policies and procedures.

“I am very pleased to bring to close one of our longest-running sexual violence investigations, and I congratulate Harvard Law School for now committing to comply with Title IX and immediately implement steps to provide a safe learning environment for its students,” Catherine E. Lhamon, assistant secretary for civil rights, said in a DOE statement.

However, as the DOE announcement notes, Harvard University is still under investigation for Harvard College’s sexual harassment and sexual assault policies, as they relate to undergraduates.

The updated Harvard policies have come under attack from both students and faculty, with 28 current and former Harvard Law School professors writing an op-ed in The Boston Globe in October calling on the university to withdraw their new sexual harassment and misconduct policy, arguing that “we find the new sexual harassment policy inconsistent with many of the most basic principles we teach.”

Former star Yale University quarterback — and current Harvard Law student — Patrick Witt also came out against Harvard’s new sexual assault policy in a separate Boston Globe op-ed, writing that his life was “nearly ruined” by a similar policy at Yale.

Last month, OCR announced that Princeton University had violated Title IX sexual assault policy standards, following an investigation of the school.

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