BYU’s handling of sexual assaults under federal investigation

Student demonstrators voice concerns over BYU's alleged mishandling of sexual assault complaints. Photo: Gephardt Daily
PROVO, Utah, Aug. 9, 2016 (Gephardt Daily) — Brigham Young University’s controversial reporting of a student sexual assault is being investigated for possible civil rights violations by the U.S. Department of Education.

Honor code violations — designed to reflect the values of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints — include, but are not limited to, participating in sexual activity. Students must be in good Honor Code standing to continue their enrollment at BYU.

BYU student Madi Barney later wrote on social media, “I was raped, and I waited four days to report because I was so terrified about my standing at BYU.”

“Brigham Young University has a strict Honor Code that prohibits actions such as premarital sex, alcohol or drug use, and even being in the bedroom of someone of the opposite sex. I am a survivor of rape, and now BYU has put my academic future on hold due to their allegations that I broke the Honor Code in the circumstances of my assault.”

Shortly after Barney’s complaint surfaced, Brigham Young University President Kevin J. Worthen announced the creation of an advisory council designed to improve the school’s handling of sexual assault cases.

The school also created a website to deal with the reporting of student sexual assaults.

In Monday’s news release, the university said its work on the issue remains a top priority.

“The BYU Advisory Council on Campus Response to Sexual Assault has been working throughout the summer on this study,” said Janet Scharman, president of BYU Student Life.

“The council has been working with many people inside and outside the university to identify changes that will help BYU move toward the elimination of sexual assault on campus and determine how to better handle the reporting process for victims of sexual assault as sensitively and compassionately as possible.

“Our continued emphasis will be on providing our students with the support that they need, as well as an understanding of the Title IX process,” Scharman said. “We take any report of sexual assault extremely seriously, with our first priority being the welfare and safety of our students. Our goal in every situation is to give students the support that they need and safeguard their educational environment.”



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