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Schools Ignoring Student Violence Warning Signs?

Many colleges and universities across the country have "deliberate blindness" to signs their students may become violent, because it's easier than dealing with such students.

The assertion was made on "The Early Show" Thursday by former prosecutor Wendy Murphy in discussing the death early this month of University of Virginia lacrosse player Yeardley Love, allegedly killed by former boyfriend and fellow lacrosse player George Huguely.

He's charged with first-degree murder. In court documents, police say he told them he kicked in Love's bedroom door, shook her, and that her head repeatedly hit the wall. His lawyer contends her death was an accident.

Photos: Yeardley Love Murdered; George Huguely Charged

U.Va. claims it didn't know Huguely was arrested in Lexington, Va. in 2008 on public intoxication charges -- an incident in which the female police officer involved felt she needed to use a Taser on Huguely to subdue him.

U.Va. President John Casteen met with Virginia Gob. Bob McDonnell Tuesday to discuss the off-campus arrest. Casteen is seeking a requirement that police tell schools about off-campus arrests of their students.

On "The Early Show" Thursday, Sports Illustrated's Jon Wertheim discussed visiting the U.Va. campus after Yeardley died and learning of possible red flags in Huguely's behavior and relationship with Yeardley that might have foretold what police say wound up happening.

And Murphy said schools often turn a blind eye.

Asked whether she was surprised U.Va. says it didn't know about Huguely's previous arrest, Murphy remarked to Rodriguez, "I wish I could say it sounds unusual. I think the truth of the matter is a lot of universities, not just U.Va., but they do develop policies, practices of what I would call deliberate blindness. In other words, they don't want to know.

"They say they want to know, but let's be clear. The more they are aware of when it comes to risks of violence, the more they know of escalating violence, threats against a particular student, the more they have to do something. And they would prefer, frankly, to take less responsibility.

"And the University of Virginia -- let me be clear about one thing -- has had a terrible reputation, in particular dealing with violence against women on campus.

"I'm involved in a matter right now with them precisely because their policies on campus are not in compliance with federal law when it comes to this very important question of dealing responsibly with violence against women. … What does responsibly mean? It means being proactive, being careful, noticing and being vigilant about things like increasing risks of violence. Because those are the most dangerous circumstances.

"You want to protect the kids who are at risk. And U.Va. has a reputation of doing the opposite, of not paying attention, not being proactive, and not caring about the very big problem of violence against women."

So, might U.Va. have any liability in Yeardley's death?

"Possibly," Murphy replied. "I don't want to say that because my understanding of their past is they have a terrible reputation for dealing with violence against women, that that necessarily means they've caused this young woman's death. I wouldn't say that.

"But I can tell you this -- I'd bet folks are really looking carefully at the possibility of a lawsuit here because, under Title IX -- we think about that as a sports equity law -- under Title IX, women on campus are entitled to be protected from targeted violence. And if the schools' policies are not adequate, you can pretty easily file a lawsuit claiming their failure under Title IX entitles her family to file a lawsuit for wrongful death. "And I hope they do, because U.Va. needs to step it up, and a lawsuit is often the best way to get a college to do the right thing."

On "The Early Show on Saturday Morning," Murphy warned that, ""If you've got a kid in college, it's very important to check out what the policies are at the university in terms of how they handle dating violence and sexual violence, because it's a huge problem on campuses across the country. … So check out what the university policies and procedures are. If your daughter is in danger because the university doesn't have the right rules in place, parents have a need to know."

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