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Federal investigators to audit Westminster College over handling of sexual assault case

(Mike Anderson/KSL-TV)


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SALT LAKE CITY - Investigators with the federal Office for Civil Rights, or OCR will be in Utah early next month to dissect how administrators at Westminster College handle sexual assault reports.

The audit comes after a complaint was filed by an alleged victim in a 2013 case. General Counsel for the college, Melissa Flores said it will bring an opportunity to improve.

"I don't believe that we failed in our process, but I look forward to seeing what the OCR has to say about it," Flores said. "I think it's a good thing because we get to see where we are."

The 2013 sexual assault was reported as having occurred off-campus. According to Flores, it was passed on to the Salt Lake City Police Department but was not investigated further.

The OCR will also take an in-depth look into the school's handling of more than a dozen cases since 2012, scouring over more than 2,000 pages of documents.

"Quite honestly, it's going to be a report card, and it's going to be public," Flores explained. "That's not necessarily a bad thing. I think we have a responsibility, and we need to take that responsibility seriously."


I don't believe that we failed in our process, but I look forward to seeing what the OCR has to say about it. I think it's a good thing because we get to see where we are.

–Melissa Flores, Westminster general counsel


Flores says the OCR will likely issue a set of recommendations that they will oversee for a period of time. If the school were to refuse, the OCR could cut off some financial aid funding, but Flores says administrators plan to be cooperative. She also points out that she believes the school is proactive in refining it's policies when it comes to handling sexual assault.

"It is looked at almost on a revolving basis," Flores said.

In 2013, Westminster College started sponsoring an annual symposium where colleges and universities could meet to discuss their approaches for handling and preventing sexual violence.

While other Utah schools have been audited for the same reason by the OCR, Flores said this is the first investigation in the state since the organization started a new focus on prevention.

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Mike Anderson

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