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Colleges have spent $60 million to resolve sexual-assault complaints, says insurance survey

The American Council on Education, an organization of 1,600 college presidents, has called the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights a “Star Chamber” that railroads colleges unfortunate enough to come under Title IX investigation.

Under its last chief, OCR probed even those incidents that did not spark a federal complaint, subjecting schools to long and costly “institution-wide” investigations that practically ordered them to mistreat accused students and favor accusers.

Some accusers get massive settlements. One University of Oregon student got $800,000 and full tuition.

The results of a new survey by insurance group United Educators show just how expensive OCR’s threats and bias in favor of accusers have been for colleges.

They have lost $60 million responding to sexual-assault allegations over 10 years, and the average cost of an accuser’s claim is $342,000, according to United Educators’ new Title IX risk management service, Canopy Programs.

Inside Higher Ed reports that the figures came out of just 1,000 cases at United Educators’ member institutions “in which a student reported being sexually assaulted”:

Fewer than 100 of those cases resulted in monetary losses for the institution, but those that did amounted to $21.8 million over the five-year period between 2011 and 2015. Several incidents costs the institutions more than $1 million, including one $2 million claim.

MORE: It’s cheaper for colleges to ‘believe the survivor’ than ensure due process

Those who “believe the survivor” are thrilled by the amount of money that Title IX investigations and settlements are bleeding out of colleges:

Laura Dunn, founder and executive director at SurvJustice, an advocacy organization for victims of sexual assault, said the numbers detailed in the United Educators paper may well encourage colleges to “aim higher and do more” regarding sexual assault.

“Moral arguments and legal requirements have not sufficiently incentivized [some] schools … from committing significant atrocities around failing to prevent and address campus sexual violence,” Dunn said. “Money speaks.”

Because the survey included relatively few institutions and covered the years before OCR became activist and politicized, “it is likely that the sum of losses at all colleges and universities to date is much higher and will continue to grow,” according to George Washington University Law Prof. John Banzhaf, who says he has helped students in kangaroo-court proceedings.

Citing figures from the Association of Title IX administrators, Banzhaf wrote in an email blast Monday:

If each administrator devoted only 50% of his or her time to complaints about sexual assault … and each cost only $200,000 in salary, benefits, support staff, etc., the cost of this alone in student tuition dollars would be about $700 million a year.

One of the leading Title IX consultants estimates schools can defend against Title IX investigations for $25,000 – not a trivial sum for smaller institutions.

Read the Inside Higher Ed story.

MORE: Lucrative Title IX industry braces for revenue plunge under Trump

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About the Author
Associate Editor
Greg spent several years as a technology policy reporter and editor for Warren Communications News in Washington, D.C., and guest host on C-SPAN’s “The Communicators.” Previously he led media and public relations at Seattle’s Discovery Institute, a free-market think tank. Greg is developing a Web series about a college newspaper, COPY, whose pilot episode was a semifinalist in the TV category for the Scriptapalooza competition in 2012. He graduated in 2001 with a B.A. from Seattle Pacific University, where he co-founded the alternative newspaper PUNCH and served as a reporter, editor and columnist for The Falcon.

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