Ohio State Opens New Sexual Misconduct Office

August 23, 2018

Ohio State University has launched a new centralized office designed to handle complaints of sexual harassment and violence after the old iteration of the unit shut down in June.

The university closed down the Sexual Civility and Empowerment unit after first suspending it in February, following reports of mismanagement and allegations that staffers there were mistreating victims and not properly reporting assaults.

Ohio State is reworking how it handles complaints under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, the federal law that bans gender-based discrimination, including opening the new office. The workers there -- called intake coordinators -- will respond to reports of sexual harassment and misconduct and help those who report incidents to understand their options, coordinate interim measures, make referrals to other agencies and file reports to police or others if necessary.

These coordinators will report to the Title IX coordinator, Kellie Brennan.

A new website provides details of the office and the university’s Title IX procedures. In the fall, a new online course will begin, designed to give students, professors and staff members "tools to challenge and report inappropriate and harmful behavior when witnessed."

“The university will continue to focus on advancing our efforts in this vital area,” President Michael V. Drake said in a statement. “The members of our Buckeye community deserve nothing less.”

The announcement comes as the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights investigates sexual abuse allegations against a former Ohio State team doctor, Richard Strauss, who ended his life in 2005. The university announced its own investigation in April after reports of Strauss abusing students surfaced. Officials have since said they have received reports from male alumni who played 14 different sports.

The case has also made headlines because of the accusations that prominent GOP congressman Jim Jordan, formerly an assistant coach at Ohio State during Strauss’s tenure, knew about the abuse and did nothing to stop it. Jordan has denied these allegations.

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