James Madison University punished three fraternity members for sexually assaulting a female student and sharing their video of the attack by banning them from campus — after they graduate.
The school found the men responsible for sexual assault and harassment in the spring break 2013 attack on Sarah Butters, and determined that they shared the video widely with others on the JMU campus in Harrisonburg, Virginia. The unusual “expulsion after graduation” sanction allowed two of the men to graduate on time in May. The third plans to remain on campus for his senior year in 2014-15.
Butters’ complaint to federal officials about the school’s handling of the attack has prompted an investigation by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights. JMU is among four universities in Virginia and 63 nationwide to face federal scrutiny on sexual assault cases. The investigation, opened on June 4, will review whether JMU violated the gender equity law Title IX.
S. Daniel Carter, an advocate for sexual assault victims who is frequently involved in federal policy on campus safety, said he’d never heard of that kind of punishment.