BC-AK--UAF Sex Assault Cases,1st Ld-Writethru/333
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UAF admits mishandling of sexual assault cases
FAIRBANKS, Alaska (AP) — A federal audit has revealed that several perpetrators of sexual assault at the University of Alaska Fairbanks were allowed to remain on campus without punishment from the university.
The federal Office for Civil Rights audit found that five perpetrators of the 40 sexual assault and rape cases between 2011 and 2014 were required to be suspended or expelled. According to the audit that began last year, the perpetrators went unpunished by the university.
Interim Chancellor Mike Powers discussed the details of the audit at a news conference Tuesday, The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reports (http://bit.ly/1Ln91dY ). Powers said the university had not disciplined the five perpetrators because of a "breakdown in the system."
"Universities across the country have not done right by their students. UAF, in some respects, was no different," Powers wrote in a message to students Tuesday morning. "Until recently, students were not being suspended or expelled for sexual assault, or for any major violation of our code of conduct. That is not acceptable and sends the wrong message to victims and perpetrators of this heinous violence."
University of Alaska President Jim Johnsen, who joined Powers at the news conference, said a third-party investigation has begun into why the perpetrators were not disciplined.
Powers said changes have been made at the university to ensure that students feel safe. Students who report crimes can now expect a more coordinated response from the university, campus police and other available services to make sure victims receive the support they need, Powers said.
"The most important thing that students will see as a result of our audit and our actions is a coordinated response," he said.
U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski previously held a forum on the issues of sexual assault, domestic violence and harassment at the University of Alaska Anchorage. She condemned what described in a news release as "UAF's negligence in sexual assault cases."
Information from: Fairbanks (Alaska) Daily News-Miner, http://www.newsminer.com
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