Expert: How University Sexual Assault Investigations Are Handled

January 05, 2018 10:26 PM

The Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action, or EOAA, is the department at the University of Minnesota that investigates actions by students or employees that may violate the school's discrimination, harassment, sexual misconduct or retaliation policies.

After sexual assault allegations were made against Gopher basketball player Reggie Lynch, the EOAA suggested Lynch be suspended from the University.


The department also led the investigation involving a student who accused several Gopher football players of sexual assault in 2016.

The EOAA tries to complete sexual misconduct investigations within 75 days. Both the accuser and person being accused are interviewed by the EOAA, along with any possible witnesses. The department then determines whether university policy was violated.

RELATED: Gophers Center Reggie Lynch Suspended; Denies Sexual Misconduct Policy Violation

Each person involved receives a written notice of the panel's decision and appeals process. A source close to Lynch told KSTP he denies the accusation and will appeal the EOAA's findings against him.

David Ridpath, an associate professor of sports business at Ohio University, said that's standard procedure.

"It's pretty reasonably accepted standard, whether one might agree with it or not," he said. "But it's a reasonable accepted standard nationwide."

Ridpath also explained that colleges are able to suspend students after such allegations are made, even without criminal charges.

"The threshold for proof, if you will, is more likely than it is not beyond a reasonable doubt," he said.

RELATED: Twin Cities Sexual Assault Awareness Advocate Speaks About Lynch Investigation

Ridpath said universities are able to take action against students if they feel it is warranted.

"In this day and age, people want to see action," Ridpath said. "And it's probably the most prudent approach."

In December of 2017, the University of Minnesota's Board of Regents approved changes to sexual misconduct reporting requirements. The most significant change is that all university employees must report sexual assault, stalking and relationship violence to the Title IX office.

"The documents that we found...the journals, the notes the writings...all indicate that he kept tabs on some of his former students," Francis said.

Schroeder had his teaching licenses revoked by the Minnesota Board of Teaching in 1994 after he was accused of inappropriately touching students, making inappropriate comments about masturbation and inviting students to his home to look at pornographic materials. Schroeder denied the allegations but signed a stipulation agreement that led to the revocation of his teaching licenses.

In 1999, Schroeder was arrested by police in Eagan for performing oral sex on a 15-year old boy, according to court records. He pleaded guilty the following year to 3rd degree criminal sexual conduct.



Todd Wilson

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