Feds Can’t Be Sued Over Response to UVA Sex Assault Investigation

Legal Times

A former University of Virginia student who claimed she was the victim of a rape on campus cannot sue federal agencies over how they responded to her complaints that the school mishandled its investigation of her allegations, a judge said Tuesday.

A former university student identified as Jane Doe in court papers filed complaints against the University of Virginia in June 2012 with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Department of Education. She accused the school of violating federal law in responding to her complaint that another student sexually assaulted her in late 2011.

A lawyer for Jane Doe, Wendy Murphy of New England School of Law, said in an email that she viewed the ruling as a win because the judge said recent amendments to the federal Clery Act, which requires schools to report information about campus safety policies, didn’t affect Title IX, which addresses discrimination at institutions that receive federal funding.

“The victory rests in the fact that Doe's pending case against UVA will now be resolved by the [departments of Education and Health and Human Services] under Title IX standards,” Murphy said. In Jane Doe’s court papers, she argued that the Clery Act amendments changed the way that schools considered sexual assault and harassment claims under Title IX.

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