WASHINGTON — Penn State University will be required to make major changes to how it deals with sexual assault complaints following an investigation of the school’s handling of allegations in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky scandal, the Department of Education announced Thursday.
U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos detailed how the university will be held accountable through a major overhaul of its Title IX procedures after it “failed to protect students and address their complaints of sexual abuse.”
The university has paid more than $100 million to settle claims from about three dozen people who alleged Sandusky, 73, had abused them and made a host of changes to its policies and procedures after the allegations surfaced.
“As I’ve said before, ‘justice delayed is justice denied,’ and for too long the students of Penn State have been denied justice,” DeVos said in a release Thursday.
Sandusky is currently serving a 30- to 60-year sentence for sexual abuse of boys, including attacks that occurred in campus facilities. Victims who testified at his 2016 trial said the former coach subjected them to a range of abuse, from grooming to violent sexual attacks. Sandusky has consistently maintained his innocence.
An investigation that began in 2014 reviewed eight of the school’s campuses during the 2011-12 academic year through the current academic year and determined the university violated Title IX.
The department said its Office for Civil Rights has been appointed to oversee the changes to how the university will handle future allegations of sexual misconduct, including those involving athletic staff.
The order requires Penn State to provide “individual remedies” for victims whose complaints the school “failed to handle promptly and equitably.”
The university will also have to revise its record-keeping practices in an effort to ensure proper procedures and documentation is taken and reported to the Office for Civil Rights for all Title IX complaints from the last two school years.
“Given all of the attention that Penn State has faced in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky scandal, it is disappointing that so many serious problems have remained at that university system,” Kenneth Marcus, head of the Office for Civil Rights, said in a statement.