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Liberty University Fined Record Fines For Not Handling Sexual Assault Complaints

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Liberty University Fined Record Fines For Not Handling Sexual Assault Complaints

(CTN News) – A $14 million fine has been imposed by the federal Department of Education on Liberty University for failing to properly handle reports of sexual assault and other campus safety issues.

The law requires universities to support victims of violence. Christian evangelical Liberty University was found to have fundamentally failed in this area by the Education Department.

According to the report, sexual assault victims were punished for violating student conduct codes while their attackers went unpunished.

Despite Liberty’s actions, the government found that a “culture of silence” had been created.

According to the department’s report, officials had discouraged women from reporting sexual assault and dismissed their claims, echoing a ProPublica investigation. When women reported being raped, they were threatened with punishment for violating the university’s strict moral code, known as “The Liberty Way.”

There was widespread outrage over the article, and senators demanded an investigation by the Department of Education.

The results of that investigation were announced on Tuesday. Liberty’s fines are more than twice the amount of the Department of Education’s next-largest fine – against Michigan State University for failing to protect hundreds of women and girls from sexual abuser Larry Nassar.

In addition, Liberty will be subject to federal oversight for two years.

The government’s findings against Liberty University feel “so validating and sort of surreal” to former Liberty University student Elizabeth Axley who reported her rape to campus officials.

It is more powerful than I can describe to hear an official report state, “Yes, everything you have described happened, it is all true,” Axley said, recalling that a resident adviser originally advised her to pray instead of reporting her rape. I was silenced after I first stood up for myself at Liberty.

Despite my best efforts, I felt hopeless. I had to do everything I could to stand up and tell my story again. It was totally worth it.”

Liberty University said in a statement that it had been unfairly treated. However, it also admitted to mistakes and committed to spending $2 million to ensure student safety on campus.

In each of these areas, we have since corrected these errors in a way that ensures compliance,” the school said. “Today at Liberty University is a new day. Safety and security of our students and staff remain our top priorities.”

Jerry Falwell co-founded Liberty University in 1971. After a series of scandals, Jerry Falwell Jr. resigned as president of the university in 2020. In addition to having more than 90,000 students enrolled online and on its Virginia campus, Liberty remains one of the country’s most influential Christian universities.

According to S. Daniel Carter, in addition to the record fines, the Department of Education’s actions go beyond the Clery Act, a federal law that requires schools to report sexual assault and other crimes. Carter said it isn’t about numbers. This is about proactively investigating and bringing schools into compliance.”


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Alishba Waris is an independent journalist working for CTN News. She brings a wealth of experience and a keen eye for detail to her reporting. With a knack for uncovering the truth, Waris isn't afraid to ask tough questions and hold those in power accountable. Her writing is clear, concise, and cuts through the noise, delivering the facts readers need to stay informed. Waris's dedication to ethical journalism shines through in her hard-hitting yet fair coverage of important issues.

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