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New Bill Seeks Accountability From Universities in Sex Abuse Cases

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Several US lawmakers have reintroduced a bill that demands more accountability from federally-funded universities regarding sexual misconduct complaints and cases involving employees.

Representatives Elissa Slotkin, Fred Upton, Brad Schneider, and Lisa McClain have reintroduced the Accountability of Leaders in Education to Report Title IX Investigations (ALERT) Act in Congress Monday alongside Senators Gary Peters, John Cornyn, and Debbie Stabenow.

Through this act, university leaders are called to submit an annual certification to the US Secretary of Education stating that the school’s president, or a similarly ranked official, and at least one member of its governing board have reviewed all sexual abuse investigations tied to an employee.

The document must also verify that school officials have not tampered or interfered with ongoing cases.

“We need to have university leaders who act to protect the health and wellbeing of their students, and this bill will help guarantee that no university president can claim ignorance of a potential sexual predator in their employment,” Rep. Slotkin told The Detroit News.

ALERT Act

The bill was previously introduced in Congress twice but was not approved. Senators Peters, Stabenow, and Cornyn first presented the bill in 2018 due to the questionable handling of sexual assault allegations against former sports doctor Larry Nassar by Michigan State University (MSU).

MSU officials claimed that they had not been informed as hundreds of women stepped forward and with claims that Nassar had sexually abused them. However, reports revealed that 14 members of university administration knew of the complaints.

Lawmakers assert that current rules are insufficient, that university leaders need to be held to higher standards in the protection of students.

“Our colleges and universities must do more to protect the safety of our children, and we must hold them accountable when they fail,” Sen. Peters said in a press release.

“Too many young people have suffered appalling harm from abusers who should have been stopped by university officials. I’m introducing this legislation to ensure that ‘I didn’t know’ will never again be an excuse for permitting monstrous abuse to continue under the watch of the officials we trust to look after our children.”

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