The Department of Education is investigating a barrage of sexual assault complaints at Liberty University (LU), which is accused of mishandling the cases and discouraging complainants from coming forward.
Allegations spanning over 15 years claim that the Virginia university discouraged students who tried to report sexual assaults. Some were asked to sign forms acknowledging that they had violated LU’s honor code — “The Liberty Way” — which focuses on student conduct violations such as drinking and premarital sex.
In the first lawsuit, filed in July 2021 by 12 women, the plaintiffs accused the evangelical university of creating an unsafe environment for students by weaponizing its honor code.
Subsequent lawsuits followed in November and April in which female plaintiffs alleged that instead of taking steps to investigate the sexual assault claims, Liberty was fixating on the women’s behavior and how they had breached the school’s moral code.
Court documents allege that the plaintiffs were stalked, beaten, drugged, and raped. In one case, a perpetrator allegedly impregnated a victim through rape. The LU police department pressured victims to drop claims, even threatening them for filing false reports.
Clery Act Compliance
The Education Department’s investigation comes on the heels of a lawsuit filed by a former Liberty student claiming that the Christian university failed to investigate her allegations of rape and sexual assault.
Federal officials are currently investigating Liberty for non-compliance with the Clery Act, a federal law intended to provide timely information about campus safety by mandating colleges report on-campus crimes.
Liberty said they have pledged “full cooperation” with the investigation in a statement to nonprofit ProPublica, the first source to report the inquiry.
“Liberty University welcomes the US Department of Education’s review of our Clery Act compliance program,” an LU spokesperson wrote in an email to WDBJ7. “We have pledged our full cooperation and look forward to the opportunity to strengthen and enhance our program through this assessment process.”