The U.S. Justice Department announced that it was starting an investigation into complaints that the University of Montana in Missoula,the Missoula Police Department, and the Missoula County Attorney’s Office had inadequately handled complaints of sexual assaults and harassment, considering the filing of up to 80 sexual assault complaints during the last three years.
The Justice Department Announcement stated: “These investigations will seek to determine whether gender discrimination affected the prevention, investigation and prosecution of sexual assaults and sexual harassment in Missoula.”
The investigation includes a review of the response to sexual assault and harassment reports at the University of Montana at Missoula, where at least 11 student-related sex assault cases were reported in the last 18 months.
Title IX, intended to end sex discrimination in education, was enacted on June 23, 1972. The law is best known as a tool to assure equality for women in athletics. But its reach is much broader, extending to any other gender discrimination by any educational institution that receives federal funding.
Under Title IX, universities receiving federal funds are legally obligated to protect students from gender-based violence and harassment – including sexual harassment, assault, and rape.
Title IX states: ”No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.”
Title IV of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 also prohibits sex discrimination, including sexual assault and sexual harassment, in education programs.
Sexual violence on campus is a civil rights issue; when students suffer from sexual harassment and sexual violence they are deprived of equal access to education.
The announcement by the Department of Justice states: “People with information related to the sexual assaults or sexual harassment in Missoula are encouraged to contact the Department of Justice at 1-855-307-6103 or at firstname.lastname@example.org .”
Additional information about the Civil Rights Division is available on its website
Additional information about the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Montana is available on the USAO Mt website.
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