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Harvard Law School found in violation of Title IX

Harvard Law School repeatedly violated Title IX in its response to sexual harassment, including sexual assault, federal officials said Tuesday.

As a result the school has "entered into a resolution agreement" with the Department of Education, officials announced in a press release Monday, following an investigation by their Office for Civil Rights.

The DOE said there were two cases in particular that were evidence of a necessary change, including one involving a sexual assault complaint where "the Law School took over a year to make its final determination and the complainant was not allowed to participate in this extended appeal process, which ultimately resulted in the reversal of the initial decision to dismiss the accused student and dismissal of the complainant's complaint."

Tuesday's announcement and agreement are separate from the investigation into Harvard College, which is facing similar complaints about its sexual harassment and assault policies.

This past summer, Harvard University overhauled its sexual misconduct policy, changing the way it handles reports of assaults and harassment.

For the first time, the university defined the term "sexual harassment," and created a central office to investigate allegations.

Professors protest Harvard's new sexual assault policy

However the changes, some of which will be required by the school's agreement with the DOE, generated pushback from more than two dozen Law School faculty members.

They say the new procedures "lack the most basic elements of fairness and due process."

"We think this is enormously one-sided in the nature of the procedures," Harvard Law professor Elizabeth Bartholet said.

Bartholet co-signed the op-ed and believes Harvard's new policy lacks safeguards for students who face accusations -- such as the ability to review evidence, the opportunity to face accusers in a hearing and access to proper legal representation.

"It's very important to make sure that we're not improperly disciplining students and, in the law school, make sure that we're not destroying somebody's future career based on facts that are simply wrong," she said.

In the new policy, the burden of proof is lower than the university's previous standard. Harvard's new regulations abide by preponderance of the evidence rather than proof beyond a reasonable doubt.

Harvard is among 55 universities that the DOE began investigating earlier this year for Title IX violations related to sexual misconduct.

Harvard has had 100 cases of sexual assault reported over the last three years.

In April, an assault victim there wrote an open letter in the college newspaper saying, "Our policy is so outdated and narrow in scope that it discourages survivors from entering an investigative process."

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