Students: University of Southern Calif. "Grossly Mishandles" Rape Allegations

The federal government has launched a probe into the group's claims, activists say

By Ron Rokhy and Jason Kandel
|  Tuesday, Jul 23, 2013  |  Updated 6:41 AM PDT
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Women who say they were sexually assaulted on the USC campus speak out about a federal investigation that they initiated. The women came forward today claiming the school rarely suspends or disciplines an alleged assaulter. Lolita Lopez reports from USC for the NBC4 News at 5 p.m. on July 22, 2013.

Lolita Lopez

Women who say they were sexually assaulted on the USC campus speak out about a federal investigation that they initiated. The women came forward today claiming the school rarely suspends or disciplines an alleged assaulter. Lolita Lopez reports from USC for the NBC4 News at 5 p.m. on July 22, 2013.

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Student activists at the University of Southern California who say the school does a poor job of investigating sexual assault reports revealed details Monday about their allegations.

Members of the Student Coalition Against Rape (SCAR) held a news conference at 12 p.m.

The group has filed a complaint with the Department of Education, saying the private school "grossly mishandles sexual assaults and rapes on its campus."

"Students who go to receive counseling are promised services they never receive, they're not informed of their rights, they're not treated with the same respect and they're not provided the same material as the students accused of raping them," said Tucker Reed, co-founder of SCAR and a survivor of rape herself.

Reed said some students' reports are dismissed because the police report and the students' stories seem inconsistent.

Aria Mostov, another member of SCAR, said the university inaccurately recorded her testimony when she reported being raped by a classmate. The school wrote that when she told her classmate to stop, he complied, but according to her, he did not. The police declined to further investigate and she was forced to attend class with her alleged rapist five days a week for an entire semester.

Reed said she filed a complaint and showed campus officials a recording of her alleged rapist and then-boyfriend confessing, but the case dragged on for six months before being dropped.

"The process made me feel raped a second time," she said.

The federal government has launched a probe into the group's claims, a SCAR spokesman said Saturday.

USC spokesman Carl Marziala said he was not aware of the probe, but said a previous statement on the issue by the university’s Division of Student Affairs addresses the complaints made by the activist group.

"USC takes all reports of sexual violence extremely seriously and had many resources available to assist students who experience unwanted sexual contact," the statement read.

"In all reported cases, we thoroughly investigate and take appropriate disciplinary, as well as interim remedial, action."

The statement went on to warn that the school’s disciplinary process cannot take the place of the judicial system, and that students who are victims of crimes have the option of reporting it to the LAPD.

In May, women's-rights attorney Gloria Allred said federal complaints have been filed against USC and three other U.S. colleges over how they handle rape claims.

Allred and students from the colleges met at a New York City news conference in May to announce the filing of complaints against Swarthmore College, Dartmouth College, the University of Southern California and the University of California at Berkeley.

She said some of the complaints were Title IX complaints alleging a hostile environment for women. Other complaints charged the colleges with violating the federal Clery Act, which requires schools who participate in federal financial aid programs to accurately report all campus crimes.

Occidental College and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill also have similar complaints filed against them.

City News Service contributed to this report.

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