Sens. Kaine, Warner call for federal investigation into Liberty University amid claims of mishandled sexual assault cases

Virginia

UPDATE 5:40 p.m.: Liberty University has responded to the request made by U.S. Sens. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) and Mark Warner (D-Va.) to launch a federal investigation into the university’s handling of claims about the creation of an unsafe campus environment and mismanagement Title IX accusations of sexual misconduct with the following statement:

Liberty University has been very clear about how seriously it is taking the allegations made in the Jane Doe lawsuit but these allegations, some twenty years old, should not give the misimpression that Liberty University isn’t fully compliant with all laws with regard to its title IX policies and procedures today. Nonetheless, the university is conducting an independent review of its processes to determine if any policies or procedures need to be modified.  The university extends an invitation to Virginia Senators’ Kaine and Warner to visit the campus when it’s convenient to discuss their concerns with our executive leadership. We hope the Senators’ comments do not represent an unhelpful politicization of such a serious issue.

Liberty University spokesperson

LYNCHBURG, Va. (WFXR) — U.S. Sens. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) and Mark Warner (D-Va.) are urging the Department of Education launch a federal investigation into Liberty University amid claims about the university creating an unsafe campus environment and mismanaging Title IX accusations of sexual misconduct.

This news comes as Liberty University faces a multi-plaintiff lawsuit with complaints from 22 people — including current students — accusing the school of creating a campus environment that increases the likelihood of sexual assault and rape.

In addition, Scott Lamb, former Senior Vice President of Communications and Public Engagement for Liberty University, sued the school last month, claiming he was fired as “retaliation for his opposition to the University’s mishandling of Title IX sexual misconduct accusations.”

Then, late last week, Liberty University field a counterclaim against Lamb’s lawsuit, seeking up to $3 million in damages against Lamb for his accusations against the school, which includes among other things, punitive damages, and attorney’s fees.

In that counterclaim, the university says that Lamb was fired for being “insubordinate,” as well as his failure to “obtain requisite expense approvals, and failed to conduct the business affairs of his department to the standards set by Liberty.” The counterclaim also accuses Lamb of breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty, misappropriation of trade secrets, and more.

Meanwhile, Liberty University’s Board of Trustees authorized President Jerry Prevo on Friday, Nov. 5 to bring in a third party for an independent investigation into the sexual assault allegations in order to make things right with the Title IX plaintiffs.

The university president also noted that “positive actions” are already underway, including the installation of 1,000 security cameras across the university’s campus and the installation of emergency “blue light boxes” in key locations.

However, Kaine issued the following statement to WFXR News on Wednesday, Nov. 10:

Any campus policy that deters or discourages a survivor of sexual assault from speaking out and seeking justice is wrong. Students who bravely speak out deserve to be heard and to have their claims taken seriously. My office is urging the Department of Education to investigate these claims against Liberty and take appropriate action.

U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.)

According to officials, in 2019, Kaine introduced the “S.O.S. Campus Act” in order to provide sexual assault survivors with the necessary support on campus and to connect survivors to counseling resources, medical care, and legal information.

Warner also shared a statement with WFXR News:

… Recent reports only underscore the need for federal policymakers to improve transparency, consistency, and accountability at our institutions of higher learning. In the meantime, the leadership of Liberty University must act expeditiously to prioritize the needs of survivors, comply with federal law by notifying survivors of their option to contact law enforcement, and ensure a campus culture that supports and defends every student’s basic right to a safe environment. While Liberty should act immediately to remedy the issues alleged in the report, it would also be appropriate for the Office of Civil Rights at the Department of Education to look into Liberty’s procedures for dealing with sexual assault cases.

U.S. Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.)

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