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Occidental College defends response to reported sexual assault

Occidental College officials are defending the school’s response to an alleged sexual assault last weekend near campus.

School officials did not issue a campus alert because it was determined there was no “continuing threat” following the report, Barbara J. Avery, dean of students, wrote in an email sent Thursday to students, faculty and staff.

Authorities said a police investigation began when a female Occidental student “went to get medical treatment on her own regarding the sexual assault,” said Richard French, a Los Angeles Police Department spokesman.

The alleged assault was reported to have happened early Sunday at a party off campus, French said. Partygoers were intoxicated, he said.  

Detectives have a suspect, though that person was not yet in custody, French said.

In her email, Avery said the reported assault involved two students.

“Had this been a case where a student was assaulted by a person unknown, or a case where the college determined that there was a continuing threat, we would have immediately issued a campus alert, as we have in the past,” Avery wrote. “This case, while very serious, was determined not to constitute a continuing threat.”

Avery said that because the case involved two students, “federal privacy laws and Department of Education rules apply.” The college, she wrote, “has an obligation to conduct a thorough, impartial and prompt investigation and take appropriation.”

The college’s investigation, separate from the LAPD investigation, is ongoing, she wrote.

Occidental College, she wrote, “will not tolerate sexual misconduct.”


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