Yale Fined $165,000 For Failing To Report Sex Crimes

Wikimedia CommonsThe Department of Education (DOE) has fined Yale University for failing to report serious sex crimes and  endangering students who thought campus was safer than it really was.

Yale didn’t report four “forcible sex offenses” from 2001 and 2002, and the university failed to explain its policies for alerting students about crimes on campus. Under the Clery Act, any school whose students get federal financial aid have to report crimes on campus every year.

The DOE noted that Yale has improved how it responds to sex crimes since the agency started looking into its Clery Act violations in 2007. However, the DOE also told Yale in a letter its failures to comply with Clery were “very serious and numerous.”

“These failures endangered Yale’s students and employees who must be able to rely on the disclosures of campus crime statistics, policies, and statements, and the accurate reporting of crime statistics to take precautions for their safety,” the DOE letter said.

The DOE said it began scrutinizing Yale’s Clery Act reports after its alumni magazine ran a piece in 2004 called “Lux, Veritas, and Sexual Trespass: How Yale College Investigates Sexual Harassment and Assault.”

The piece, written by journalist and Yale Law school graduate Emily Bazelon, suggested Yale had been seriously underreporting its sex crime statistics.

Bazelon’s piece points to the story of a Yale sophomore who was pinned down by a junior boy in a dorm room in 2001. She told him “stop” and “don’t do this” while he masturbated on her. The sophomore eventually reported the assault to Yale’s “sexual harassment grievance board,” which approached the junior. He admitted the assault but Yale never reported it in its Clery report, according to Bazelon.

This type of approach might have been why Yale had been reporting fewer sex offenses than any other Ivy League school, Bazelon noted. Yale reported five sex offenses between 2000 and 2002, while Harvard reported 80 from that same period and Princeton reported 29. Bazelon added:

To students trying to raise awareness on campus, the tiny number of assaults that Yale reports is maddening. “The dominant attitude is that rape doesn’t happen here. And Yale University reports support that feeling,” wrote Della Sentilles ’06 in the Yale Daily News last winter. “Yale statistics seem misleading and Yale students are inadequately informed.”

Yale reported 20 sex offenses in 2011 — so either the number is going up or the school is doing a better job of reporting its crime statistics. The university had this to say about the recent fine, according to the New Haven Register:

Yale fully supports the Department of Education’s mandate under the Clery Act and believes that student safety is of paramount importance. The university is fully committed to maintaining a robust program of campus security policies and campus crime statistics reporting that contains all of the elements prescribed by the Clery Act.

Yale added, though, that the “imposition of maximum fines is not warranted” for violations from so many years ago.

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