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Sen. Blumenthal Reacts To White House Plan To Combat College Sexual Assaults

HARTFORD, Conn. (CBSNewYork/AP) - The White House has set its agenda to combat sexual assaults in colleges and universities.

As WCBS 880 Connecticut Bureau Chief Fran Schneidau reports, Sen. Richard Blumenthal has praised the White House effort as a "promising blueprint" to bring tougher investigation into campus sexual assaults.  However, the Connecticut Democrat says the guidelines don't go far enough.

Sen. Blumenthal Reacts To White House Plan To Combat College Sexual Assaults

In Connecticut, several students and graduates have filed suits against the University of Connecticut, complaining their rape complaints fell on deaf ears.

Blumenthal said too often, the penalties for those committing sexual assaults on campus amount to a slap on the wrist.

"My eight roundtables around the state of Connecticut indicate that there is a need for stronger federal action to compel better reporting and action by the campuses and administrators against sexual assault," the senator told Schneidau. "A slap on the wrist is no punishment. Temporary suspension is inadequate as a disciplinary measure and students ought to be given an option to seek prosecution and stronger measures, sanctions within the university."

Blumenthal said another problem is that many campuses lack confidentiality codes and fail to provide necessary counseling for students victimized.

The White House on Tuesday announced the Not Alone initiative as part of a slate of recommendations outlined in a report.

WEB EXTRA: Read The White House Report (pdf)

A task force convened by President Barack Obama earlier this year issued the report.

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) has taken on the issues of sexual assault in the military and on college campuses in recent months.

The Justice Department will help develop training programs in trauma care for school officers and assess different models for schools to use to adjudicate such cases, since some sexual assault survivors are wary of a legal process that can expose them to potentially painful or embarrassing questions by students or staff.

Current data indicates about one in six women and one in 33 men are victims of sexual assault during college. Only 12% of rape survivors in college report the crime to authorities, according to statistics.

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