Handling of sex assault, harrassment at Swarthmore under investigation

By Tom Lehman 6:43pm, July 17, 2013 - Updated 3:05pm, July 18, 2013
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Federal education officials have opened an investigation into whether Swarthmore College in Delaware County, Pa. violated federal rules in the way the college handled cases of sexual harassment and assault.

Hope Brinn, a junior at Swarthmore from Wilmington and graduate of Ursuline Academy, is among a group students claiming the college created a sexually hostile environment by inappropriately handling their cases.

She and another student, Mia Ferguson, received letters confirming their complaints were being investigated.

"Mia Ferguson and I have known quite a few students who have filed complaints that have not been investigated, so it was a relief to see that the federal government was taking this seriously," Brinn told Delaware's Afternoon News. "We definitely did not consider it a given or a for sure."

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Brinn, who says she was sexually and verbally harassed by a student who still attends the school in good standing, is pleased the Office for Civil Rights is investigating the Title XI complaint.

"Clearly he was in the wrong," she says. "I was met with an immediate response from one of our Title IX coordinators and she said 'Well what did you do to provoke the harassment? What do you think had caused him to behave like that?' and I was taken aback."

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Swarthmore and three other colleges and universities have been named in complaints filed in May over the handling of rape and sexual harassment allegations.

A Swarthmore College spokeswoman said the school vowed to "cooperate fully and expeditiously."

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.

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