U. of North Carolina Faces 3rd Federal Inquiry Into Sex-Assault Complaints

The Chapel Hill campus, already under investigation by the U.S. Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights in connection with alleged sexual assaults of female students, now stands accused of retaliating against one of the women who complained of being assaulted. The university’s honor court initially charged the woman, Landen Gambill, of intimidating the fellow student she had accused of assaulting her, a former boyfriend. The proceedings against Ms. Gambill were suspended and later dropped after an outside investigator said the honor-code provision was probably an unconstitutional restraint of Ms. Gambill’s free speech. The provision was later withdrawn from the honor code, but the federal office said it would proceed with an investigation anyway. The office, which has become more aggressive in scrutinizing allegations of sexual violence on campuses and two months ago warned colleges against retaliation, is already investigating Chapel Hill’s handling of the complaints and its reporting of campus-crime statistics. The university pledged full cooperation in the new investigation.

In a June 24 letter to Gambill’s lawyer, the Office for Civil Rights said it would look into two allegations:

• Whether the university retaliated against Gambill when the honor court charged her with “disruptive or intimidating behavior” against the male student by filing her original discrimination complaint.

• Whether the university retaliated against Gambill when it assigned the male student “to a dormitory in close proximity to (Gambill’s) dormitory after he was found to have sexually harassed (Gambill) and subjected to a no-contact order.”

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