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Two months after the U.S. Department of Education launched an investigation into how LSU reports and investigates crimes on campus, the same federal agency has opened a second probe into LSU focusing on sexual assault and harassment.

LSU spokesman Ernie Ballard confirmed Tuesday that the university has received "notice from the Department of Education, Office of Civil Rights, of an investigation into Title IX compliance."

Title IX is the federal law that prohibits educational institutions from discriminating based on a student's gender, and students who allege that they've been sexually harassed or assaulted on campus can file Title IX complaints against their perpetrators. If a university finds someone responsible for violating Title IX, for instance by sexually assaulting another student, the person can be disciplined, suspended and even kicked off campus.

But LSU has faced a groundswell of criticism from students who say the Title IX office failed to properly investigate or act on their complaints of sexual misconduct, domestic violence and more. Those complaints were the focus of the recent report from the law firm Husch Blackwell, which looked into how LSU had handled such past cases. 

A U.S. Department of Education spokesperson confirmed Tuesday evening that the Office of Civil Rights had opened the second investigation into LSU.

"There has been extensive media coverage of the university’s potential mishandling of complaints of sexual assault, including allegations that university officials ignored sexual assault allegations made against former athletes," the spokesperson said.

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The federal Title IX investigation will focus on how LSU has handled complaints of sexual assault and sexual harassment from 2018 through the present day. USA Today reported Tuesday that LSU received the notice of the Title IX investigation in a March 31 letter to general counsel Winston DeCuir Jr. The feds requested that LSU start submitting information to them by April 20. 

The letter to DeCuir, which USA Today obtained, included footnotes of news coverage from The Advocate, USA Today, WAFB-TV and ESPN. 

College campuses across the state — along with school boards and other institutions —  have faced a number of federal Title IX investigations in recent years.

The Office of Civil Rights website shows that Title IX reviews are pending at Louisiana Tech University, involving Title IX scholarship violations; at Northwestern State, involving Title IX denial of benefits; at Southern University, involving sexual harassment, violence and retaliation; at the University of Louisiana at Monroe, involving athletic Title IX violations; at the University of New Orleans, involving Title IX scholarship violations; and at Xavier University, involving sexual harassment. 

The same Office of Civil Rights also informed LSU in February that the office was investigating possible violations of the Clery Act. The Clery Act is another federal law that requires college campuses that receive federal funding to issue warnings about threats on campus and to make information public about crimes on campus.

LSU was required to start submitting a series of documents related to the Clery investigation last month to the U.S. Department of Education.

Investigative reporting is more essential than ever, which is why we’ve established the Louisiana Investigative Journalism Fund, a non-profit supported by our readers.

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