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Society

USC Students File Federal Complaint About University’s Handling Of Sexual Assaults

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A senior at the University of Southern California has joined with several other students in filing a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education against the university claiming violations of the Clery Act. Ariella Mostov says that USC violated a federal law mandating accurate and timely reporting of crime on campus. According to Mostov, she was not contacted by the Los Angeles Police Department or the USC’s Department of Public Safety for more than a month after she reported being sexually assaulted.

USC is "persistently underreporting sexual battery, sexual assault, and rape in the Annual Clery Security Report by ... categorizing instances of 'rape' as 'personal injury,' 'domestic dispute,' and other less serious crimes or non-crimes," the complaint says.

Mostov was furious with the way that campus police handled her report about the attack and says that she was discouraged from reporting the crime to the LAPD. "They made it seem like it'd be a total nightmare to go through the justice system," Mostov said. "I feel like I was denied justice. These people who are assigned to protect us and guarantee our safety, who are supposed to help us through these especially hard times, are people who are incredibly incompetent."

USC senior Tucker Reed organized the Clery complaint, The Huffington Post reported. "Victims are told by campus security that turning in their assailant can ruin the perpetrator's life and that the investigation will be rough on them and traumatizing," Reed said. "They want to make it seem less bad than it is, because they have to report them, Clery-wise, and it's just sick."

Provost Elizabeth Garrett wrote a letter to the USC community addressing the issue of how sexual assaults are handled. "As part of our ongoing process of improvement, in both of the last two academic years, I asked task forces to comprehensively review our policies and practices," Garrett wrote. "In addition, federal guidelines for universities change, and we update our policies accordingly. We are proud of our compassionate, professional leadership team."

What will happen with the Clery complaint remains to be seen.

"We're trying to make USC a better place," Mostov said, "so that future students don't have to be in this situation."

Sources: The Huffington Post, USC News

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