Group meets in Virginia to discuss college sexual assault

WASHINGTON — The group looking to help cut down on sexual assaults on college campuses in Virginia and improve responses met this week in Richmond to move towardimplementing recommendations at universities across the Commonwealth.

While Gov.Terry McAuliffe’s sexual assault task force was formed prior to the outcry over a now-questioned Rolling Stone article alleging a gang-rape at a University of Virginia fraternity, it took on more meaning and attention since the article was published.

The panel includes Attorney General Mark Herring, the secretaries of education and public safety and others. They heard from John DiPaolo with the U.S. Depatment of Education about the importance of aligning reccomendations with federal laws like Title IX and the Clery Act, which requires schools to notify the community of any ongoing threats.

He also pointed out the importance of allowing victims someone to go to confidentially, without that person facing penalties for choosing not to report a potential sexual assault to police.

VCU Assistant Director for Sexual Assault Services Tammy Slovinsky warned the committee that if the procedures get too complicated, or too many victims see their friends not satisfied with the university or criminal justice systems, then more women may not report incidents.

Since the Rolling Stone article came out, the University of Virginia has rolled out changes related to alcohol at fraternity parties, new security officers and bystander training.

Secretary of Education Anne Holton says if those first steps fail to stem the tide, the school will have to keep trying until it gets it right.

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