PROVIDENCE, R.I. — After years of complaints that they weren't taking sexual assault reports seriously, colleges are finally doing so — and finding themselves slammed with lawsuits from men who say they were unfairly suspended or otherwise punished.
The schools are feeling caught in the middle.
"We're trying to walk the razor's edge between being more attentive to the issue but still being fair to all our students," said Dana Scaduto, general counsel at Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pa., who has testified before Congress on the issue.
At least 75 men have sued their schools since 2013, complaining largely of reverse discrimination and unfair disciplinary proceedings. Most were never charged with a crime because the accuser didn't go to police or authorities decided there wasn't enough evidence.
This month, former Yale University basketball player Jack Montague said he planned to sue after he was expelled over a sexual assault allegation, and two University of Oregon basketball players suspended over 2014 rape accusations sued for $10 million each after prosecutors declined to bring charges.
A federal judge in Rhode Island last month allowed a case to move forward by a Brown University student suspended for 21/2 years over a sexual assault accusation.
The get-tough approach by colleges is attributed largely to a 2011 letter from the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights. The letter told schools they must promptly investigate allegations of sexual assault and harassment, even if the accuser does not make a complaint to the institution.