The fallout from the Larry Nassar scandal at Michigan State University has continued with a record fine from the U.S. Department of Education and its Office for Civil Rights for the school's violation of the Clery Act.
MSU Fined $4.5 Million for Not Divulging Misconduct Stats
On September 5, 2019, the Department of Education announced that it had imposed a record-setting $4.5 million fine against Michigan State University for Clery Act violations during the Larry Nassar scandal. The fine was also accompanied with a list of things that the school had to do, including overhaul its reporting policies for sexual misconduct allegations and alter its Title IX procedures.
The fine followed what the agency called a “systemic failure to protect students from sexual abuse.” Those problems were uncovered during investigations by the office of Federal Student Aid and the Office for Civil Rights at the Department. Those investigations began back in February 2018 and focused on how Michigan State had handled reports of sexual violence against Larry Nassar.
Larry Nassar had been accused by numerous students at the college, including members of the U.S. women's gymnastics team, of sexual abuse and misconduct.
The investigations found that MSU failed to:
- Properly classify the incident and disclose them in their campus crime statistics
- Issue timely warnings under federal regulations
- Notify campus security staff of incidents
- Create a system for collecting crime statistics on campus
- Maintain administrative manpower to protect students from sexual misconduct
In addition to the fine, the Department of Education is requiring MSU to:
- Establish an independent compliance officer for Clery Act needs
- Create a Clery Compliance Committee representing offices from across the college
- Create a system of reporting sexual misconduct incidents to comply with the Clery Act
- Alter its Title IX policies for when certain officials have to recuse themselves from Title IX investigations
The Clery Act and the Need to Report Sexual Misconduct
Obviously, the fine levied against Michigan State focuses on Clery Act violations rather than direct Title IX issues.
The magnitude of the fine shows the importance of the Clery Act in how the federal government regulates and prohibits sexual misconduct on campus, though. The Clery Act is the centerpiece of the reporting mechanism that requires schools to disclose crimes that happen on campus – including sexual assault and other misconduct.
The size of the Clery Act fine might not even placate some advocates for sexual assault survivors – after all, some high-ranking officials at MSU turned a blind eye to Nassar's misconduct. They are likely to come out and say the fine was far too small for such egregious and active oversight.
Title IX Defense with Joseph D. Lento
Students rarely deal with the requirements of the Clery Act unless they are applying to school and see campus safety reports or are the victim of a crime on campus. Institutions, however, have to comply with federal law and its regulations on a daily basis.
Joseph D. Lento understands the importance of the Clery Act and knows how to utilize it when defending students and faculty members who have been accused of a Title IX violation. Contact him online or call his law office at (888) 535-3686 for help and guidance.