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Liberty University allegedly threatened to punish students who reported being sexually assaulted

On Monday, a report was published by ProPublica detailing Liberty University’s alleged mishandling of sexual assault cases. The report says that the university used the schools code of conduct to threaten punishments for students who came forward. 

ProPublica spoke with over 50 former students and employees at Liberty University and reviewed records from more than a dozen cases. Those interviewed by ProPublica claimed that the university discouraged and dismissed students who tried to report allegations of rape; in some instances, they said they were threatened with punishments for breaking the Liberty Way, which is the school’s moral code. The Liberty Way was cited for its prohibitions against drinking underage and premarital sex. 

Three students said they had to sign forms after reporting their rape incidents acknowledging that they could be penalized for breaking the ethics code. Two other former students said they actually suffered punishments after reporting their assaults. One of those students told ProPublica that she was fined $500 for consuming alcohol and was required to attend counseling; failure to comply, she said, would have resulted in her transcript being withheld from her.

Scott Lamb is the former senior vice president of communications at the university recently went public with information on how sexual assault cases are handled. Lamb, who has since been fired after expressing “dismay over the direction of the University” during a meeting, is suing over his termination.

A dozen former students, who are remaining anonymous, filed a lawsuit in July against Liberty University, saying the school did not help victims of sexual assault. Additionally, they say the Liberty Way increased the possibility of assault on campus by making reporting instances of sexual violence “difficult or impossible.” Liberty University President Jerry Prevo commented on the lawsuit: “Liberty University will not tolerate Title IX violations, sexual abuse or sexual assault in any form at any time.”

He added, “The media attention was not the product of any new information related to the lawsuit but prompted in part by a terminated employee who falsely alleges that the university under my leadership has attempted to mishandle the allegations made in the lawsuit. Nothing could be farther from the truth.” 

ARTICLE: ELIZABETH HERTZBERG

MANAGING EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE

PHOTO CREDITS: WUSA9.COM

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