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6 Mass. Schools Face Federal Probe Over Handling Of Sex Assault Complaints

By Katie Brace WBZ-TV
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Katie Brace, WBZ-TV Katie Brace
Katie Brace is a General Assignment Reporter for WBZ-TV News With...
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BOSTON (CBS) — Emerson College student, Sarah Tedesco has fought for over a year for people to listen. Now, a list released by the federal Education Department names 55 colleges and universities under investigation for their handling of sexual assaults on campus. Six of the schools are in Massachusetts.

“It’s exciting to see people so high up listening to us,” said Tedesco. “It has made me feel like I am making something so terrible that happened to me, something good.”

Tedesco, who just finished her junior year, said a fellow student raped her in the fall of 2012. She said when she reported the assault Emerson College failed to protect her and that same student, sexually assaulted her again.

She is one of several students nationwide who filed a complaint citing violation of Title 9 – a federal law requiring colleges and universities to advise victims of their rights, conduct investigations and ensure victim safety.

The six schools in Massachusetts are Emerson, Amherst College, Harvard University, Harvard Law, UMass Amherst and Boston University.

Students WBZ-TV talked with at BU felt confident in their school.

“It’s such a big university. I think there’s a lot of exposure. I think it’s the right thing to investigate,” said Colin Fowler.

For Tedesco, a public list of schools is a start. “I think this is the first step in people actually talking about rape culture,” said Tedesco.

Emerson College released the following statement:

We support our students who have come forward to advocate for change in this important national issue. To protect the privacy of our students, however, we cannot comment on specific cases.

Emerson has been working diligently with our students, faculty, and staff to expand our education and sexual assault prevention programs. We have taken a number of steps to provide a way forward for improving safety and supporting students who have experienced sexual assault.

During this academic year, our actions have included hiring a Director of Violence Prevention and Sexual Assault Response Advocate and the retention of an experienced consulting firm to conduct an external and independent review of Emerson’s Title IX and Clery Act policies, procedures, and practices related to sexual assault.

We have also strengthened our educational and training programs; revised our survivors rights and options resource materials on our website and in printed brochures; and written, distributed, and implemented a new Campus SaVE Policy. In addition, the search for a new Title IX coordinator position, recently approved by Emerson’s Board of Trustees, will commence shortly.

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