James Madison University Under Federal Investigation For Response To Sexual Assault

| by Will Hagle

Universities have long been attempting to solve the unfortunate problem of sexual abuse that occurs on campuses throughout the country. Although many of these reports of sexual abuse are not related to Greek life, several universities have targeted fraternities and other similar social organizations in order to crack down and send the message that any instance of such abuse is not acceptable. 

Much of the punishment on various campuses has been a direct result of the U.S. Education Department’s Office of Civil Rights launching investigations into how sexual abuse reports and cases have been handled in recent years. 

According to the University Herald, the latest school to face a Title IX/Clery Act investigation is James Madison University. The Virginia school is under investigation for the manner in which it handled three students and fraternity members that were found guilty of sexual assault on a female student. JMU responded to the incident by banning the students from campus, but still allowed them to complete their graduation from the school. 

According to the Huffington Post, however, the “expulsion after graduation” approach has been called into question as one of the students plans to return this fall in order to complete his degree. Victim Sarah Butters filed the federal complaint.

The incident allegedly took place off campus during a 2013 spring break trip to Florida, where the assault was recorded and later distributed via online forums and shared amongst students. Butters reportedly appears in the video reluctantly removing her clothes and being groped by the three fraternity members. 

Butters also withdrew from the university after her grades slipped during the initial adjudication process. She claimed she filed the federal complaint in order to make it easier for victims of sexual assault to come forward and receive an adequate response from James Madison University.