Liberty University Agrees to Pay $14 Million For Concealing, Under reporting Sexual Abuse

Liberty University has agreed to a $14 Million fine for under reporting and concealing sexual assaults, according to an announcement by the U.S. Department of Education announced Tuesday. The unprecedented fine is the largest ever levied under the federal Clery Act. 

Liberty, which benefited from $874M in student loans, was accused of failing to report crimes committed on campus, discouraging victims from reporting the crimes, failing to properly warn about threats, destroying evidence, failing to keep proper records, and ultimately not treating it as seriously as the law (and scripture) requires. In one damning example of Liberty University’s failures, we read:

The Department is aware of multiple cases that demonstrate the negative effects that these policy,
procedural, and programmatic deficiencies had on the University’s approach to incidents of sexual
violence and the victims who reported them.

As one example, the review team calls attention to LUPD Incident #19-02750.20 In this case, a victim reported that she was raped. The victim stated that in furtherance of the attack, the perpetrator slapped her, pulled her hair, and threatened her by reminding her that he carried a knife. The perpetrator also engaged in coercive, intimidating, and manipulative behaviors. Despite these reported facts, the investigator unfounded this case based on a claim that the “victim indicates that she consented to the sexual act.”

In point of fact, the victim’s own statement merely indicated that she “gave in” in an attempt to get away from the perpetrator. To state the obvious, “consent” acquired by threat or force is no consent at all. To make matters worse, it is now clear that the initial report was mishandled by an LUPD officer, and in that process, the investigator, and the LUPD at large, failed to gather more information about two other incidents of sexual assault reported by the victim.

Responding to the agreement, Liberty University complained in their own press release that “Many of the Department’s methodologies, findings, and calculations in the report were drastically different from their historic treatment of other universities” and that “Liberty disagrees with this unfair treatment.”

Nevertheless, the university was able to negotiate a final settlement, less than half of the $37.4 million dollars they were initially facing, writing “While the university maintains that we have repeatedly endured selective and unfair treatment by the Department, the university also concurs there were numerous deficiencies that existed in the past. We acknowledge and regret these past failures and have taken these necessary improvements seriously.”

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