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Oct 11, 2013 10:51 AM EDT

USC, Occidental College Admit Clery Act and Title IX Violations in Underreporting Sex Crimes On Campus


Two schools implicated federal complaints for underreporting and mishandling sexual misconduct cases have publically admitted their fault, the Huffington Post reported.

The University of Southern California (USC) and Occidental College, both in Los Angeles, Calif., announced this month they underreported sexual misconduct offenses in recent annual Clery Reports.

The Clery Act requires colleges and universities to release an annual report of all crimes on campus that took place the previous year. Failure to do so could result in fines of $35,000 per violation.

Occidental announced it let 19 sex crimes go unreported from 2007 to 2010. Those crimes were reported together in a Project SAFE survey in the spring of 2010, but the Clery Act requires all crimes to be reported every year.

From 2010 to 2011, USC failed to report 13 sex crimes, which the school's Department of Public Safety chief John Thomas said was discovered during an internal review.

"In May, I was made aware of a concern about possible errors in the reporting of incidents to the Los Angeles Police Department. Working with the university's compliance office, we immediately began a review of all data and procedures related to sharing information with LAPD," Thomas said in a statement. "During that review, we identified 13 anonymous complaints of sex offenses that had not been included in our 2010 and 2011 Clery Act statistics."

Occidental, currently under investigation for alleged Clery Act violation, said their underreporting was the result of guidance from an outside security consultant.

"Bottom line: We made some mistakes," Occidental spokesman Jim Tranquada told The Huffington Post Wednesday. "We found them during an internal audit of our Clery reporting, and corrected the numbers in our latest report. The safety of our students is our primary concern, and we need to get this right."

USC students filed a federal complaint with the U.S. Education Department's Office of Civil Rights (OCR), the agency conducting an investigation of Occidental and several other schools for similar complaints. Because of the government shutdown, OCR has put current investigations on pause and, additionally, USC has been left to wait to find out if the agency will begin an investigation.

As federal Clery and Title IX violations allegations against colleges become more common, so do these internal reviews. Emerson College is facing a potential investigation and also recently announced an internal review.

Also under investigation by the OCR, or who had been at one point, is Yale University, Dartmouth College, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Swarthmore College, the University of Colorado at Boulder, Amherst College and more.

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