Republicans object to federal investigation into sexual assaults at Liberty University

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Using the investigation into sexual violence at Liberty University as an example, the Republican chairwoman of the House Education Committee questions whether the federal government is intentionally targeting religious institutions.

Virginia Foxx, RNC — who has taught at two colleges — stopped short of saying that the Education Department’s finding that the university punishes victims was wrong. Instead, the issues raised by House Republicans Foxx, James Comer of Kentucky, and Bob Good of Virginia, address how the investigation was handled.. They also asked how a preliminary report was leaked and to what extent the feds plan to fine the Christian university.

Mourners wait to enter the Arthur S. Liberty University Educational Demos pay respects to the late Rev. Jerry Falwell at a parade on May 17, 2007 in Lynchburg, Virginia. The Christian college is currently under investigation by the federal government for its response to sexual assault on campus.

“We write to express our deep concern about how the U.S. Department of Education (“the Department”) appears to be targeting religious institutions with program reviews and fines that go far beyond established and documented precedent.” She reads the message.

the school, Started by televangelist Jerry Falwell, a popular speaking destination among Republican lawmakers, is one of the largest online colleges in the country. In the 2020-21 academic year, it received nearly $860 million in federal funds to help students access higher education.

The federal government’s investigation into Liberty University centers on how the private school handled the Clery Act, a federal law that requires universities to document sexual violence and other crimes on their campuses.

USA TODAY obtained a copy of the initial report, as well as the report Washington Post. “Victims of sexual assault were frustrated by Liberty’s administration’s reputation for punishing rather than helping survivors of sexual assault,” investigators wrote in the report.

Liberty University President Jerry Falwell, left, and others applaud as President Donald Trump prepares to speak during Liberty University's commencement ceremony on May 13, 2017 in Lynchburg, Virginia.

Liberty University President Jerry Falwell, left, and others applaud as President Donald Trump prepares to speak during Liberty University’s commencement ceremony on May 13, 2017 in Lynchburg, Virginia.

Additionally, investigators found that Liberty failed to track when community members were attacked. In other cases, the report cited physical and digital records that university employees attempted to destroy. It also cited at least one current employee who has been accused of sexual misconduct, but remains on the job. USA TODAY later identified that employee as Keith Anderson, listed as University Executive Director of the Center for Student Health and Wellness Initiatives.

The ministry declined to comment on the report. The agency did not immediately respond to USA TODAY’s questions about the Republicans’ letter. However, Foxx’s letter cited rumors of a potential $37.5 million fine tied to Clery Act violations. The federal government had previously imposed fines Michigan State University $4.5 million Regarding the sexual assaults committed by Larry Nassar.

“It has become increasingly clear that the Department is prepared to make an example of Liberty University by issuing a hefty and unprecedented fine,” the Republican letter said.

Liberty University President Donde Costin also discussed Number $37.5 million in October 2023 with Fox News. He said some of the department’s findings were factually incorrect and questioned whether the Department of Education had unfairly targeted his institution by leaking the report.

The lawmakers requested a briefing from the administration before “taking any further action with respect to any action related to the Clery Act.” They’re also asking the federal agency to tell them what was done “to determine the source of the leaked findings regarding Liberty University and how the department plans to prevent future leaks.”

Chris Quintana is an investigative reporter at USA TODAY. He can be reached at cquintana@usatoday.com or via Signal at 202-308-9021. It’s on X at @CQuintanaDC.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Republicans protest sexual assault investigation at Liberty University

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