Officials Mum on Subject of Brown Sexual Assault Investigation

Jul 21, 2014

No one is saying why federal officials have launched an investigation into Brown's handling of a sexual assault complaint, but the school is one of 68 around the country facing increased scrutiny over the issue of sexual violence.

Campus officials have struggled to strike a balance between the rights of students who say they are victims of sexual assault and the rights of their alleged attackers, who often have not been found guilty of any crime.

What we do know is that Brown student Lena Sclove filed a complaint with the Federal Department of Education's Civil Rights Division. She has alleged that Brown made her feel unsafe by allowing her alleged attacker to remain on campus during an internal review process.

Sclove first went public with her concerns earlier this year, saying her alleged attacker, who was suspended from Brown, was scheduled to return to campus in the fall. She cited the trauma of seeing him on campus while she herself remained a student as one of several reasons Brown should re-examine the way it handles sexual assault.

Sclove's alleged attacker, Daniel Kopin, has refuted Sclove's allegations and accused her of changing her story several times. He and his attorneys have submitted a letter to federal authorities, saying her complaint should not form the basis for any determination about sexual assault policy at Brown.

Brown officials say they will do everything they can to cooperate with the investigation and are open to suggestions to strengthen the process for adjudicating sexual assault complaints. The university has opened its own internal review of sexual assault policy. 

While federal officials declined to say why they opened an investigation into Brown this month, they did say that Brown has been the subject of only one complaint related to sexual assault since they began keeping records in 2009, and it is the complaint currently under review.

An investigation does not mean the Department of Education has found evidence of wrongdoing, but it does mean the agency has determined it should take a closer look.