Utah State President Cockett responds to negative DOJ report, promises reform

Message from USU President Noelle Cockett

We've officially signed an agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice on its Title IX compliance review of how USU handled reports of sexual misconduct involving students between 2013 and early 2017. Over the last three years, we've made sweeping changes in the way the university prevents and responds to sexual misconduct in our campus community. Our agreement with the DOJ lays out future steps for prevention education and training that will further our culture of respect. Read more about the resolution at: https://bit.ly/2w5E00i

Posted by Utah State University on Wednesday, February 12, 2020

LOGAN, Utah, Feb. 13, 2020 (Gephardt Daily) — A report released after a three-year investigation of Utah State University found the school mishandled numerous sexual assault cases on campus, and by doing so, “… rendered additional students vulnerable.”

“Severe sexual harassment, including rapes and other forcible sexual assaults, went unaddressed and students who were subjected to sexual harassment often suffered negative academic, mental health, and social consequences, including withdrawal from their classes or from the University altogether,” the DOJ report says.

It noted that USU received 240 reports of sexual harassment over a period of almost five years, but processed fewer than 25 in a way required by Title IX procedures.

Among the most infamous sexual assault cases were those involving former USU football star Torrey Green, convicted in January of 2019 of five counts of rape, one charge of object rape, one count of forcible sexual abuse and one charge of misdemeanor sexual battery. He was sentenced to a minimum of 26 years in the Utah State Prison.

Several of the victims testified at trial that they felt their reports to USU officials were disregarded or not fully investigated.

On Wednesday, USU President Noelle Cockett released a statement saying school officials had signed an agreement with the Department of Justice on how to address deficiencies in procedure. If the school does not do as it has promised, legal action could follow.

Read Cockett’s statement below or view it in the released video above. The statement:

Today, Utah State University has signed an agreement with the Department of Justice, or DOJ. This agreement lays out the ways USU will expand its ongoing efforts to prevent and respond to sexual misconduct in our campus community.

The agreement is the result of a Title 9 compliance review by the DOJ of how USU handled sexual misconduct in 2013 and early 2017. Like our own internal review that we conducted in 2016, the DOJ found that USU did not have adequate policies and procedures in place to promptly investigate and resolve reports of sexual violence.

Since 2016, USU has been working hard to correct the gaps and shortcomings in our processes. While we have done much to improve, I know that doesn’t undo the impact of our past systemwide failures.

To those affected, I personally apologize. Utah State should have done better. I should have done better. Today, I reaffirm our commitment to ensuring Utah State is a safe campus. We will not tolerate sexual misconduct in any form, and we will remain persistent in our education and prevention programs to help students and employees understand and embrace their responsibilities.

It will take all of us, working together, to be vigilant and to create a better campus for all who are here.


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