UNC responds to federal sexual assaults investigation - WSLS 10 NBC in Roanoke/Lynchburg Va

UNC responds to federal sexual assaults investigation

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The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill said Thursday that it has responded to federal officials looking into how the university reports sexual assaults.

"The University is cooperating fully and in good faith with the ongoing investigation," UNC said in a statement.

UNC said it had "made significant changes to its polices" and brought in Gina Smith, a national expert on sexual assualts, to lead campus conversations on the matter.

In January, several women, including a former assistant dean, called for an investigation into what they called an atmosphere of "sexual violence."

"Students of this university are confident that justice will be done here," student Landen Gambill told a group rallying for action recently.

Gambill took her story public, saying she was raped by her ex-boyfriend more than a year ago.

She was one of several students who filed a complaint claiming UNC pressured an administrator into under-reporting sexual assault cases.

"I am tired of lies and broken promises," she said.

In a federal complaint obtained by the Daily Tar Heel, former assistant dean of students Melinda Manning claims the school purposely under-reported sexual assaults.

Manning filed the complaint before resigning in December.

According to the Department of Justice, a school UNC's size averages five sexual assaults every day.

UNC reported 21 sex offenses in all of 2011.

Earlier this month, UNC Chancellor Holden Thorp e-mailed students saying, "sexual assault is one of the greatest challenges facing campuses across the nation, including Carolina."

He said he was committed to addressing it before leaving office.

Gambill's ex-boyfriend talked with the Daily Tar Heel about what he says he dealt with after being accused of rape, saying he was not given an opportunity to present any evidence and that he was immediately suspended.

Gambill has been charged with violating the honor code. Student prosecutors said she violated the honor court by intimidating her ex-boyfriend.

"I think the university's decision to charge me with an honor code violation is an example of their retaliation against me for speaking out," she said.

UNC denies retaliation saying it doesn't tell student prosecutors what cases to bring before the honor court and thus Gambill's claim "is without merit."

This week, WNCN asked board of trustees chairman Wade Hargrove about the investigation.

"The university is trying responsibly to address those issues in a thoughtful and responsible way," he said.


Justin Quesinberry

Justin is a reporter for WNCN and a North Carolina native. He has spent the better part of the last decade covering the news in central North Carolina.  More>>

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