- Associated Press - Friday, September 9, 2016

Frostburg State University will reimburse counseling expenses for two former students as part of an agreement to settle federal allegations that the western Maryland school mishandled the women’s sexual assault complaints, the university and the U.S. Education Department said Friday.

The agreement with the department’s Office of Civil Rights also requires the school to strengthen its responses to sexual assault complaints. The school further agreed to train faculty, staff and its nearly 6,000 students on the sexual harassment and sexual violence requirements of Title IX, a federal law that prohibits sex discrimination in education.

The school said in a statement that it does not admit to the agency’s findings of violations. The university said it has taken significant steps since the investigation began in 2013 to strengthen its response to sexual assault complaints, including hiring a full-time Title IX coordinator last year.

Investigators found that administrators failed to adequately investigate a 2013 rape complaint against a male student and a 2014 sexual assault complaint against a campus police officer.

In the first case, investigators found that administrators were slow in responding to reports of the incident, even after the male student was criminally charged. Investigators also found that administrators were ineffective in keeping the accused student from the alleged victim during the university’s judicial process, which ended in his permanent suspension.

In the second case, the university did not conduct a Title IX investigation of allegations that a campus police officer had sexually assaulted a student inside his campus police car. The officer was suspended, and criminal charges were eventually dropped in return for his cooperation in a fruitless state police investigation of another campus police officer. The Department of Education documents erroneously state that the officer pleaded guilty to criminal charges.

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