The U.S. Department of Education launched its second investigation into Louisiana State University since the school’s chronic mishandling of sexual misconduct allegations came to light amid reporting by USA TODAY.
The federal agency’s Office for Civil Rights notified the university of the Title IX compliance investigation in a letter dated March 31. The letter, a copy of which was obtained by USA TODAY, says the agency will examine LSU’s handling of student complaints of sexual assault and harassment from the 2018-2019 academic year to present.
Title IX is a federal law prohibiting sex-based discrimination in any school that receives federal money.
LSU spokesman Jim Sabourin confirmed receipt of the letter but did not offer a comment.
It is the second such investigation since February, when the Department of Education notified LSU it was conducting a far-reaching probe of the school’s compliance with federal campus safety laws. The agency told LSU at the time it had received complaints alleging “a pattern of conduct that resulted in serious violations of the Clery Act,” a 1990 federal law aimed at transparency around campus crime policy and statistics.
This time, the Department of Education opened the case “in light of recent reports describing students’ allegations that the University mishandled their complaints of sexual assault and harassment.”
It requested from LSU a lengthy list of documents, including all materials provided to the law firm Husch Blackwell, which LSU hired in November to review the university’s handling of sexual misconduct allegations in response to USA TODAY’s reporting.
It also asked for all sexual assault and harassment complaints over that time, and specifically those involving athletes, plus “any other internal or external assessments of the adequacy or effectiveness of the University’s policies and procedures concerning sexual assault, and internal or external recommendations made to the University since Fall 2018.”
It requested the documents by April 20 and also notified the school of its intention to interview anyone with knowledge about the situation.
LSU has been under fire for its mishandling of sexual misconduct complaints since August, when a USA TODAY investigation revealed that school officials had turned a blind eye toward two students’ rape allegations against former star running back Derrius Guice when he was a freshman with the team.
Derrius Guice, who played at LSU from 2015 to ’17, has been accused of rape by two former students.
Two months later, a second USA TODAY investigation revealed that LSU’s failure to adequately address sexual misconduct went beyond Guice. Officials in the university’s athletic department and Title IX office had repeatedly ignored complaints against abusers, denied victims’ requests for protections and subjected them to further harm by known perpetrators.
In March, USA TODAY uncovered a 2013 internal investigation into then-head football coach Les Miles’ alleged sexual harassment of female students. The investigation found Miles’ behavior immoral but not illegal, and the school did not fire Miles until years later after a string of disappointing losses on the field.
Husch Blackwell’s review, which the school made available in March, confirmed USA TODAY’s findings. Since then, the school has disciplined two employees and made several sweeping changes, including more staffing and resources for its Title IX office.