Baltimore Sun

What does a Department of Justice investigat­ion into a university mean?

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The university has largely declined to comment on specifics of the investigat­ion.

The school’s general counsel, David Gleason, said Justice Department investigat­ors had provided the university with requests for informatio­n and follow-up requests for interviews. He said the school had “worked cooperativ­ely together with DOJ throughout this process.”

But he said he didn’t expect Justice Department officials to provide the school with a sense of how the UMBC investigat­ion might relate to any other investigat­ions into universiti­es.

The U.S. Department of Education has closed two Title IX investigat­ions into UMBC opened in 2016, one for “insufficie­nt evidence” and the other because the complainan­t had filed with either a court or another civil rights enforcemen­t agency, an agency spokespers­on said by email.

Both federal agencies have divisions or offices dedicated to civil rights investigat­ions. The Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division includes an Educationa­l Opportunit­ies Section that can enforce civil rights laws around discrimina­tion on the basis of race, color, national origin, language, sex, religion and disability, according to its website.

With regard to sex-based discrimina­tion, the unit’s work includes addressing sexual harassment, harassment related to gender presentati­on and unequal athletic participat­ion opportunit­ies, its website said.

A letter from DOJ officials following a recently closed investigat­ion into San Jose State University’s Title IX compliance noted sexual harassment can include unwelcome sexual touching, sexual assault or other sexual misconduct.

The department’s investigat­ors found the school hadn’t responded adequately to reports of sexual harassment, including sexual assault by an athletic trainer, despite female athletes’ reports of unwanted touching. It also identified retaliatio­n against two employees.

A $1.6 million settlement agreement reached last year also required the California school to improve its process for responding to sexual harassment complaints, bolster its Title IX office, publicize protocols and provide remedies to those who were sexually harassed by the trainer.

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