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CU Pays Student $32,500 to Settle Sexual-Assault Complaint

BOULDER, Colo.—The University of Colorado has paid a student $32,500 to settle a complaint she filed over the way the school handled her report of being sexually assaulted.

The Boulder Daily Camera reported the settlement Saturday after obtaining a copy of the agreement under the state Open Records Act.

The payment was made to Sarah Gilchriese, who said she was sexually assaulted by another student. She said her assailant’s punishment included only an eight-month suspension and $75 fine, and that it took four weeks for the assailant to be removed from campus.

The Associated Press does not identify the victims of sexual crimes without their consent. Gilchriese has agreed to be publicly identified.

“I hope that with all the publicity about my case and my federal complaint that it creates a community where a lot more survivors feel comfortable coming forward and reporting,” she said. “I also went public because I want policies to change for all future survivors so the campus is a lot safer for them and the policies really cater toward the survivors’ needs.”

Gilchriese filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights last year alleging CU violated Title IX, a federal education law prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sex.

The Civil Rights office launched an investigation, which is still underway and is separate from the settlement.

The university said it didn’t admit liability or fault by agreeing to the settlement.

Patrick O’Rourke, the university’s chief legal counsel, said universities manage claims the way businesses do. The university needs to make “intelligent and prudent business decisions” to best serve its mission without being involved in litigation, he said.

The Boulder campus is hiring a Title IX coordinator, which was recommended by an external review the university commissioned last summer. The university is also studying White House recommendations released last month on preventing and responding to sexual assaults on campus.

“We take these issues extremely seriously,” CU system spokesman Ken McConnellogue said.

For the first time, the U.S. Department of Education revealed on May 1 its list of colleges under investigation for Title IX violations as the Obama administration sought to bring more openness to the issue of sexual violence on and around the nation’s campuses. The schools ranged from public universities including Ohio State, California and Arizona State to private schools including Knox College in Illinois, Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania and Catholic University in the District of Columbia. Ivy League schools including Harvard, Princeton and Dartmouth were also on the list.

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