Republican leaders want public hearings into UConn’s sexual-assault policies

State Senate Minority Leader John McKinney and House Minority Leader Lawrence F. Cafero this morning said they want a public hearings “as soon as possible” to look into the University of Connecticut’s policies on sexual assaults on campus, supporting victims and punishing assailants. They delivered a letter to the General Assembly’s Higher Education Committee and Public Safety and Security Committee in response to the federal suit filed against UConn by current and former students, who allege that the university did not protect them from sexual assault, whiling failing to adequately investigate and respond.

“As a father of two daughters, I find these allegations especially troubling,” McKinney said in a statement. “It is our obligation as a legislature to ensure that state law is being followed and also to determine whether improvements in the law are required to adequately protect victims of sexual assault. As public officials and university administrators, we must work together to ensure our universities enforce a zero tolerance policy on sexual assault.”

“We need a complete airing of these charges of sexual abuse and rape on campus and, just as troubling, UConn’s response to the claims by these young women,” Cafero said. “We need a complete airing before the public on these matters.”

“The unfortunate sense one gets from reading these accounts is that students may be encouraged to pursue the internal discipline process and only when that fails do they consider going to campus police, at which point, they may be told that evidence has been lost and it is ‘too late’ to investigate,” McKinney and Cafero wrote.  “If this is true, then perhaps when sexual assault complaints are first brought to UConn’s student disciplinary board they should be automatically forwarded to UConn police for investigation. In addition, students may feel that UConn police are protective of the university.  Perhaps sexual assault complaints should be referred to state police for independent investigation.”