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Jul 23, 2013 09:09 AM EDT

Dartmouth, USC Face Federal Investigation For Mishandling Sexual Harassment and Rape Complaints

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The Department of Education's (DOE) Office of Civil Rights is investigating the responses of Dartmouth College and the University Of Southern California (USC), on reported cases of campus sexual harassment and misconduct.

Jim Bradshaw, a spokesman for the office said that the two colleges have been accused of violating Title IX, the law that forbids gender discrimination at schools.

The investigation comes after attorney, Gloria Allred and a group of students and activists across the country filed complaints against educational institutes nationwide in May that had under reported sexual assault crimes and discrimination.

The charges were filed against Swarthmore College, Dartmouth College, USC and UC Berkeley for violating Title IX (facilitating a hostile environment for women) and federal Clery Act (misreporting campus crimes).

"Compliance review sites are selected based on various sources of information, including information provided by parents, education groups, media, community organizations and the public, complaint information, and, in certain circumstances, on statistical and demographic data," Bradshaw said.

Justin Anderson, a college spokesman, said that Dartmouth is working towards enhancing its policies and practices, lowering sexual assaults and aiding victims.

"We strive to maintain a process for handling complaints that is fair, supportive and incorporates best practices," Anderson said. "Beyond responding to complaints, we have worked intentionally and diligently in recent years to reduce incidents of sexual assault on campus, create a climate of reporting and support those who have come forward to report sexual harassment or sexual assault."

Tucker Reed, a USC student who led the complaint against her school, said that although USC has introduced policies for averting and responding to sexual assault, the college authorities don't usually follow them.

Reed co-founded the group 'Student Coalition against Rape' at USC that filed the sex discrimination complaint against the college.

"More recently and prior to the filing of this complaint, USC began an ongoing review of policies and procedures in light of updated federal guidelines. The university remains vigilant in addressing any issues promptly and fully as they arise," said Jody Shipper, the university's Title IX coordinator.

Reed said that she was sexually assaulted in 2010 by her then-boyfriend and reported it in November 2012.

"I blogged openly about the details of my rape and the university's abuses and watched as my inbox filled with emails from fellow students who had experienced the same injustices and the same silencing," Reed said.

She said that the school investigators didn't respond properly and failed to look into the evidence in her case, including taped conversations with her attacker.

"The process made me feel raped a second time," Reed said.

Title IX was established in 1972 to provide equal access to college sports programs to female students.

Early May, the office also started its investigation against Occidental College after a complaint was filed April by the campus group 'Oxy Sexual Assault Coalition' (OSAC), comprising of students and faculty, alleging that dozens of female students were sexually assaulted over the past four years and that the administrators ignored their complaints.

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