Over the past decade, federal investigators have dropped nearly three-quarters of the allegations against colleges accused of mishandling complaints of sexual violence on their campuses, often because the complaints are filed too long after the incident.
Of the 118 investigations closed between 2004 and 2014, 87 cases were shut because the allegations could not be proved, for late filing, or administrative reasons, according to a Globe analysis of data from the US Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights, the agency that conducts investigations into discrimination related to sexual violence on college campuses.
The figures shed light on the outcome of the allegations at a time of heightened awareness of campus sexual violence. The number of sexual violence-related investigations opened each year has increased steadily over the past decade, from a single case in 2004 to 17 in 2012, 32 in 2013, and 102 last year.
Some activists said the data showing the number of closed cases suggest that the Education Department is not doing enough to hold colleges accountable.
“It reminds us how much of the burden to solve this problem is on the backs of survivors,” said Andrea Pino, who cofounded the national advocacy group End Rape on Campus, which since its start in 2013 has helped students report to the department more than two dozen cases of colleges allegedly mishandling sexual violence claims.
Denise Horn, a spokeswoman for the Education Department, said officials are “working aggressively to ensure that all students have the opportunity to learn in a safe and healthy environment.”
“Let there be no mistake: Sexual violence has no place in society and especially no place in our nation’s schools or on our nation’s college campuses,” she said in an e-mail.
Sexual violence cases are governed by Title IX, a law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of gender in any federally funded education program or activity. It requires colleges to address sexual violence on campus, including following proper steps to investigate claims of assault.
“Title IX is one of the few options you have to hold your school accountable,” said Pino, 23, who said she was raped while a student at the University of North Carolina. “It’s been a cornerstone of the activism movement in the past several years. But it’s also been a hypocrisy.”
In Massachusetts, seven different colleges faced a total of 11 investigations between 2004 and 2014.
Two of those investigations were dismissed because too much time had passed between when the alleged violations occurred and when they were reported to the Education Department.
In five other cases, investigations were closed because the allegations were being investigated elsewhere, because there was insufficient evidence, or because the person who reported the alleged wrongdoing did not give permission when asked by the Education Department to proceed with the investigation.
In four cases, the colleges reached a resolution agreement with the department during or after the investigation.
Ten Massachusetts schools are facing investigations: Amherst College; Berklee College of Music; Boston University; Brandeis University; Emerson College; Hampshire College; Harvard University; Northeastern University; the University of Massachusetts Amherst; and the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth.
The data the Globe reviewed were obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request by Boston-based public records website MuckRock, and subsequently analyzed by the Globe. The data included cases that were resolved as of the end of last year.
The most common reason cases at colleges across the country were closed was that too much time had passed between when the alleged violations occurred and when they were reported to the Education Department, which generally does not investigate allegations more than 180 calendar days old.
Colby Bruno, an attorney at the Victim Rights Law Center in Boston, a nonprofit that gives free legal services to sexual assault victims, said she was surprised by the findings from the Globe’s review.
“If a quarter of complainants are not able to report that their school has problems because of what seems to be an arbitrary deadline, then maybe we should look at a way to change that,” said Bruno, referring to the Education Department’s 180-day deadline for filing complaints.
Bruno said she expects to see a decline in the percentage of cases dropped due to administrative reasons or other apparent technicalities because in recent years an increasing number of students have turned to lawyers, often on a pro bono basis, to help them file Title IX complaints.
“I have every expectation that all of the open cases will reach agreements, where there are violations,” she said.
The Education Department has said its investigations have found that some colleges have retaliated against victims of sexual assault for filing reports with the department and delayed investigations. The department has also uncovered instances in which administrators determined that a student had raped a fellow student, but school officials allowed the alleged perpetrator to remain at the school, only to find out that the offending student subsequently raped another classmate.
As of Wednesday, the Education Department was investigating 112 additional cases at 105 colleges nationwide. Last May, the department, as part of a White House push to hold colleges more accountable for how they handle sexual assault, took the unprecedented step of naming every college in the country involved in an active case. At that time, 55 schools were named; the list has grown substantially since.
Fourteen of the 118 investigations nationally between 2004 and 2014 ended with the accused college reaching an agreement with the department after the school was found to be out of compliance. In 15 other cases, the department and the college reached mutual accord before the investigation was completed, and in two other instances, colleges quickly resolved the matter with the individual or individuals who alleged the wrongdoing.
Eleven colleges faced two sexual violence-related investigations between 2004 and 2014, while five schools faced three such investigations. The rest were investigated just once during that span.
On average, it has taken the department 229 days to resolve each case.
The office says its goal is to complete investigations within 180 days, but notes that investigations about sexual violence can be delicate and complex and the process typically involves not just investigating a complaint specific to a small number of students, but also looking at the campuswide culture, policies, and other systemic issues related to sexual violence.
Officials have said steps have been taken recently to reduce how long investigations take.
Schools found to be violating the rules around handling complaints of sexual violence could face punishment as severe as losing their federal funding or having the matter referred to the Department of Justice; however such drastic action has never been taken.
Instead, schools found in violation typically agree to change certain policies and procedures to improve their handling of assault cases.
|State||School name||Date opened||Date resolved||Days to resolve||Result|
|AL||Faulkner University||9/18/12||10/18/12||30||Complainant withdraws allegation|
|AL||University Of Alabama||10/14/14||11/7/14||24||Complainant did not give consent to proceed with investigation (or, prior to February 2008, insuficient factual basis)|
|AZ||University Of Arizona||3/9/09||9/1/09||176||Insufficient evidence of non-complaince determination|
|AZ||University Of Arizona||7/1/14||11/20/14||142||Allegation lacks sufficient detail to infer discrimination|
|CA||Azusa Pacific University||8/12/14||9/24/14||43||Complaint is not timely|
|CA||Biohealth College||11/17/10||5/13/11||177||Prior findings by other agency meet OCR standards|
|CA||California Polytechnic State Univ-San Luis Obispo||10/16/14||12/2/14||47||Complaint is not timely|
|CA||Claremont Graduate University||10/18/11||11/1/11||14||Complaint is not timely|
|CA||Merced College||12/13/06||12/29/08||747||Resolution agreement after investigation (non-compliance determination)|
|CA||Pitzer College||3/19/12||3/29/13||375||Resolution agreement before conclusion of investigation|
|CA||Samuel Merritt College||1/24/14||2/10/14||17||OCR has no jurisdiction over allegation|
|CA||San Francisco State University||11/13/14||12/10/14||27||Complainant did not give consent to proceed with investigation (or, prior to February 2008, insuficient factual basis)|
|CA||University Of California-Berkeley||6/9/14||6/12/14||3||Complaint is not timely|
|CA||University Of California-Davis||5/23/11||6/14/11||22||Complaint is not timely|
|CA||University Of California-Los Angeles||8/14/14||10/15/14||62||Allegation currently being investigated elsewhere (fed, state, internal procedures)|
|CA||University Of California-Santa Cruz||2/14/11||3/2/11||16||Complaint is not timely|
|CO||Colorado State University||7/2/14||9/26/14||86||Allegation addressed in recent OCR complaince review(s)|
|CO||University Of Colorado At Boulder||4/2/14||9/4/14||155||Allegation fails to state a violation|
|CO||University Of Colorado At Denver||1/15/13||2/7/13||23||Complaint is not timely|
|CO||University Of Colorado At Denver||8/18/14||9/25/14||38||Allegation addressed in recent OCR complaince review(s)|
|CT||Yale University||3/15/11||6/15/12||458||Resolution agreement before conclusion of investigation|
|DC||George Washington University||3/4/11||8/31/11||180||Resolution agreement before conclusion of investigation|
|DE||University Of Delaware||7/7/14||8/12/14||36||Allegation currently being investigated elsewhere (fed, state, internal procedures)|
|FL||Florida Gulf Coast University||7/28/14||8/26/14||29||Complaint is not timely|
|FL||Florida International University||4/28/14||6/3/14||36||Complaint is not timely|
|GA||Clark Atlanta University||4/24/08||6/10/09||412||Resolution agreement after investigation (non-compliance determination)|
|HI||University Of Hawaii At Manoa||5/6/14||6/24/14||49||Complaint is not timely|
|IL||North Park University||7/22/14||12/18/14||149||Complainant withdraws allegation|
|IL||Northwestern University||11/24/08||5/22/09||179||Resolution agreement before conclusion of investigation|
|IL||Roosevelt University||3/3/09||4/20/09||48||Complaint is not timely|
|IL||Southern Illinois University-Carbondale||5/22/09||11/18/09||180||Resolution agreement after investigation (non-compliance determination)|
|IL||University Of Illinois At Urbana-Champaign||5/31/12||5/22/13||356||Early complaint resolution|
|IN||Butler University||3/15/13||7/12/13||119||Allegation lacks sufficient detail to infer discrimination|
|IN||Butler University||3/15/13||7/12/13||119||Complaint is not timely|
|IN||Butler University||5/20/14||6/18/14||29||Complainant did not give consent to proceed with investigation (or, prior to February 2008, insuficient factual basis)|
|IN||Hanover College||2/22/13||9/6/13||196||Complaint is not timely|
|IN||Indiana University-Bloomington||8/8/14||8/15/14||7||Allegation addressed in recent OCR complaince review(s)|
|KS||University Of Kansas||10/14/11||3/30/12||168||Resolution agreement before conclusion of investigation|
|KY||Kentucky Wesleyan College||2/21/12||8/15/13||541||Resolution agreement before conclusion of investigation|
|LA||University Of Northern Iowa||7/16/13||8/20/13||35||OCR has no jurisdiction over allegation|
|MA||Harvard University- Law School||9/27/10||10/8/10||11|
|MA||Harvard University- Law School||10/4/10||12/30/14||1548||Resolution agreement after investigation (non-compliance determination)|
|MA||Massachusetts Maritime Academy||10/12/12||4/10/13||180||Resolution agreement before conclusion of investigation|
|MA||Northeastern University||1/13/04||7/9/04||178||Insufficient evidence of non-complaince determination|
|MA||Northeastern University||9/2/14||10/30/14||58||Allegation currently being investigated elsewhere (fed, state, internal procedures)|
|MA||Quincy College||3/7/12||8/27/13||538||Resolution agreement before conclusion of investigation|
|MA||Springfield College||11/13/13||4/4/14||142||Complaint is not timely|
|MA||Tufts University||9/10/09||4/30/13||1328||Complaint is not timely|
|MA||Tufts University||9/10/09||4/30/13||1328||Insufficient evidence of non-complaince determination|
|MA||Tufts University||9/22/10||4/28/14||1314||Resolution agreement after investigation (non-compliance determination)|
|MA||Wentworth Institute Of Technology||5/10/10||6/23/10||44||Allegation currently being investigated elsewhere (fed, state, internal procedures)|
|MD||Frostburg State University||11/25/14||12/19/14||24||Allegation currently being investigated elsewhere (fed, state, internal procedures)|
|MD||Saint Mary'S College Of Maryland||5/15/12||6/24/13||405||Resolution agreement after investigation (non-compliance determination)|
|MD||Washington Adventist University||10/6/14||12/19/14||74||Complaint is not timely|
|ML||Michigan College Of Beauty||4/18/13||5/22/13||34|
|ML||University Of Michigan-Ann Arbor||8/16/13||2/24/14||192||Allegation currently being investigated elsewhere (fed, state, internal procedures)|
|ML||University Of Michigan-Ann Arbor||11/3/14||11/6/14||3||Allegation currently being investigated elsewhere (fed, state, internal procedures)|
|MO||Lincoln University||4/16/09||10/13/09||180||Resolution agreement before conclusion of investigation|
|MS||Antonelli College||8/6/09||10/14/09||69||Complainant refuses to provide information or can't be reached|
|MS||University Of Mississippi Main Campus||3/8/10||12/22/11||654||Resolution agreement after investigation (non-compliance determination)|
|MT||University Of Montana-Missoula||1/11/12||5/17/12||127||Process as complaince review|
|NC||Appalachian State University||7/14/14||8/8/14||25|
|NC||Duke University||2/5/13||7/26/13||171||Complaint is not timely|
|NC||North Carolina Wesleyan College||4/26/07||12/17/07||235||Resolution agreement before conclusion of investigation|
|NJ||Atlantic Cape Community College||9/29/08||1/26/09||119||Allegation currently being investigated elsewhere (fed, state, internal procedures)|
|NJ||Princeton University||4/14/10||10/7/10||176||Insufficient evidence of non-complaince determination|
|NJ||Princeton University||11/10/10||11/5/14||1456||Resolution agreement after investigation (non-compliance determination)|
|NJ||Princeton University||8/8/11||2/3/12||179||Allegation currently being investigated elsewhere (fed, state, internal procedures)|
|NJ||Rider University||6/12/09||4/8/10||300||Resolution agreement after investigation (non-compliance determination)|
|NM||Northern New Mexico Community College||5/4/11||1/31/12||272||Resolution agreement before conclusion of investigation|
|NM||Southwest Acupuncture College||2/29/12||6/14/12||106||Early complaint resolution|
|NM||University Of New Mexico-Main Campus||1/30/14||4/11/14||71||Currently in litigation - 60 day rule|
|NY||Cuny Queens College||2/10/12||3/12/12||31||Complaint is not timely|
|NY||Monroe Community College||9/24/14||10/21/14||27|
|NY||Suny At Stony Brook||9/20/13||2/19/14||152||Complaint is not timely|
|NY||Suny Binghamton University||11/12/13||6/27/14||227||Allegation addressed in recent OCR complaince review(s)|
|NY||Suny Buffalo State College||6/2/14||7/22/14||50||Complaint is not timely|
|NY||Suny Buffalo State College||6/2/14||7/22/14||50||Previous decisions (by cour, OCR, etc.) preclude processing|
|NY||The New School University||4/5/11||9/30/11||178||Insufficient evidence of non-complaince determination|
|NY||University Of Rochester||1/11/11||2/7/11||27||Complaint is not timely|
|OH||Cedarville University||5/17/13||6/23/14||402||Complaint is not timely|
|OH||Ohio State University||5/23/13||7/10/13||48||Complainant refuses to provide information or can't be reached|
|OH||Owens State Community College-Toledo Campus||11/13/07||11/13/09||731||Resolution agreement after investigation (non-compliance determination)|
|OH||Xavier University||2/18/09||3/18/09||28||OCR has no jurisdiction over allegation|
|OH||Xavier University||11/15/11||2/7/12||84||Allegation currently being investigated elsewhere (fed, state, internal procedures)|
|OH||Xavier University||1/25/12||7/23/12||180||Resolution agreement before conclusion of investigation|
|OK||University Of Central Oklahoma||2/25/10||4/1/10||35|
|OK||University Of Central Oklahoma||5/6/10||10/8/10||155||Currently in litigation - 60 day rule|
|OR||Portland State University||10/10/12||12/14/12||65||Complainant refuses to provide information or can't be reached|
|PA||Drexel University||6/16/14||8/11/14||56||Complaint is not timely|
|PA||Haverford College||11/12/09||5/6/10||175||Resolution agreement before conclusion of investigation|
|PA||Pennsylvania State University||3/11/13||3/13/13||2||Complaint is not timely|
|PA||Pennsylvania State University||10/17/13||4/14/14||179||Process as complaince review|
|PA||Swarthmore College||10/22/14||10/24/14||2||Allegation currently being investigated elsewhere (fed, state, internal procedures)|
|PA||West Chester University Of Pennsylvania||5/27/14||8/12/14||77||Allegation lacks sufficient detail to infer discrimination|
|PA||West Chester University Of Pennsylvania||5/27/14||8/12/14||77||Complaint is not timely|
|RL||Community College Of Rhode Island||9/20/10||10/29/10||39||Allegation fails to state a violation|
|TN||Vanderbilt University||11/14/13||3/20/14||126||Allegation addressed in recent OCR complaince review(s)|
|TX||Prairie View A & M University||3/22/13||4/26/13||35||Complaint is not timely|
|TX||Southern Methodist University||6/2/11||12/11/14||1288||Resolution agreement after investigation (non-compliance determination)|
|TX||Southern Methodist University||3/8/13||12/11/14||643||Resolution agreement after investigation (non-compliance determination)|
|TX||Southern Methodist University||3/20/13||12/11/14||631||Resolution agreement after investigation (non-compliance determination)|
|TX||Texas A & M University-Kingsville||7/1/14||12/18/14||170||Allegation lacks sufficient detail to infer discrimination|
|TX||Texas A & Muniversity||8/1/12||8/16/12||15||Allegation currently being investigated elsewhere (fed, state, internal procedures)|
|TX||The University Of Texas At Arlington||12/3/10||1/7/11||35||Closed with referral to EEOC|
|TX||The University Of Texas-Pan American||5/5/14||1/5/15||245||Allegation fails to state a violation|
|VA||University Of Virginia-Main Campus||5/6/10||7/15/11||435||OCR has no jurisdiction over allegation|
|VA||University Of Virginia-Main Campus||6/18/12||7/27/12||39||Process as complaince review|
|VA||Virginia Commonwealth University||12/3/10||9/30/11||301||Resolution agreement before conclusion of investigation|
|VA||Virginia Commonwealth University||12/6/10||1/12/11||37|
|VA||Virginia Military Institute||6/23/08||5/9/14||2146||Resolution agreement after investigation (non-compliance determination)|
|WA||Western Washington University||6/9/14||11/13/14||157||Allegation lacks sufficient detail to infer discrimination|
|WA||Whitman College||4/15/14||5/15/14||30||Allegation currently being investigated elsewhere (fed, state, internal procedures)|
|WI||Nicolet Area Technical College||12/17/12||1/11/13||25|
|WV||Glenville State College||12/29/10||1/17/12||384||Resolution agreement before conclusion of investigation|
|WV||West Virginia University||5/15/14||5/28/14||13||Complaint is not timely|
|State||School name||Date opened|
|AK||University Of Alaska System Of Higher Education||5/5/2014|
|AZ||Arizona State University||1/26/2012|
|CA||Butte-Glenn Community College District||2/27/2013|
|CA||California Institute Of The Arts||9/30/2014|
|CA||San Francisco State University||3/10/2015|
|CA||San Jose-Evergreen Community College District||11/12/2014|
|CA||University Of California-Berkeley||3/25/2014|
|CA||University Of California_Davis||3/24/2015|
|CA||University Of California-Los Angeles||8/8/2014|
|CA||University Of California-Santa Cruz||3/13/2015|
|CA||University Of Southern California||6/26/2013|
|CO||Colorado State University||6/24/2014|
|CO||University Of Colorado At Boulder||6/18/2013|
|CO||University Of Colorado At Denver||4/29/2014|
|CO||University Of Denver||Case 1: 12/12/2013 Case 2: 3/10/2015|
|CT||University Of Connecticut||2/17/2015|
|DC||Catholic University Of America||1/8/2014|
|DE||University Of Delaware||5/8/2014|
|FL||Florida State University||4/3/2014|
|FL||University Of South Florida||9/3/2014|
|HI||University Of Hawaii At Manoa||5/28/2013|
|IA||Iowa State University||10/15/2014|
|ID||University Of Idaho||4/18/2013|
|IL||University Of Chicago||6/28/2013|
|KS||Kansas State University||8/4/2014|
|KS||University Of Kansas||7/16/2014|
|MA||Berklee College Of Music||6/19/2014|
|MA||University Of Massachusetts-Amherst||6/30/2011|
|MA||University Of Massachusetts-Dartmouth||7/16/2014|
|MD||Frostburg State University||9/18/2013|
|MD||Johns Hopkins University||8/8/2014|
|MD||Saint Mary'S College Of Maryland||Case 1: 2/6/2015 Case 2: 2/6/2015 Case 3: 2/6/2015 Case 4: 3/10/2015|
|MD||Morgan State University||6/26/2014|
|MI||Grand Valley State University||10/6/2014|
|MI||Michigan State University||Case 1: 7/21/2011 Case 2: 2/18/2014|
|MI||University Of Michigan-Ann Arbor||2/21/2014|
|MO||Missouri University Of Science And Technology||5/21/2014|
|NC||University Of North Carolina At Chapel Hill||3/1/2013|
|ND||Minot State University||2/26/2014|
|NE||University Of Nebraska-Lincolin||9/30/2014|
|NY||Cuny Hunter College||2/8/2013|
|NY||Hobart And William Smith Colleges||4/24/2014|
|NY||Pace University - New York||7/22/2014|
|NY||Saint Thomas Aquinas College||7/9/2014|
|NY||Sarah Lawrence College||12/4/2013|
|NY||Suny At Stony Brook||7/23/2014|
|NY||Suny Buffalo State College||3/26/2015|
|NY||Suny College At Brockport||2/12/2015|
|NY||Suny College At Purchase||1/5/2015|
|OH||The University Of Akron||5/6/2014|
|OH||Wittenberg University||Case 1: 8/25/2011 Case 2: 4/18/2013|
|OK||Oklahoma State University||4/10/2014|
|PA||Carnegie Mellon University||1/13/2014|
|PA||Franklin And Marshall College||3/26/2014|
|PA||Pennsylvania State University||1/23/2014|
|PA||Pointe Park University||2/27/2015|
|PA||Temple University||Case 1: 8/9/2013 Case 2: 11/19/2014|
|TN||University Of Tennessee @ Chattanooga||12/5/2014|
|TX||Cisco Junior College||5/7/2014|
|TX||The University Of Texas-Pan American||4/21/2014|
|VA||College Of William And Mary||4/18/2014|
|VA||James Madison University||6/4/2014|
|VA||University Of Richmond||6/12/2014|
|VA||University Of Virginia||6/30/2011|
|VA||Washington And Lee University||2/18/2015|
|WA||Washington State University||1/15/2013|
|WI||University Of Wisconsin-Madison||2/24/2015|
|WI||University Of Wisconsin-Whitewater||2/14/2014|
|WV||Davis And Elkins College||9/4/2014|
|WV||West Virginia School Of Osteopathic Medicine||3/25/2013|