BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Newly released emails shed light on how Johns Hopkins University officials handled an alleged rape at a fraternity house. Students are pressing for a federal investigation into the school, demanding more be done to notify and protect students against sexual assaults.
Mike Hellgren has those emails that are critical to this federal complaint.
The emails show there was a lot of hand-wringing among administrators as to how and whether to even report the rape allegations in any public alert.
Some students say the problem is larger than this one incident and believe the power of a federal investigation will change how Hopkins handles these cases.
“I think it’s always important on campus when people discover sexual assault has been mishandled,” said Laura Dunn.
Dunn heads Survjustice, the group that filed the complaint on behalf of Johns Hopkins students, claiming the university broke federal laws for failing to notify the student body about allegations of a gang rape at a fraternity house.
“There is this idea that we need to keep the image of the school rather than worry about the safety of individual students,” said Dunn.
WJZ has obtained emails from that complaint–where university officials discuss how a warning could create unwanted attention with divides over acknowledging the possible rape so publicly, and concern over the criticism they will take for not acting–months after the allegation was made.
“I was just blown away to actually see an open dialogue wondering should we actually fulfill our duty here or should we wait and let it go away?” Dunn said.
Hopkins would not answer any questions but issued a statement that it was “deeply committed to safety” and “informing students” and “the decision not to notify the university community in that case was made after considering relevant facts and legal requirements.”
It comes as 51 schools nationwide are under investigation for violating Title IX, the federal law that requires schools to advise victims of their rights, conduct an information and ensure victims’ safety.
“It takes a strong university to look at that and say, `We’re going to do something about that. We’re going to fix it,'” said Colby Bruno, Victims’ Rights Law Center.
Hopkins says it will conduct an independent review of how it handled the rape case.
“We’ll see. We’ll see how they actually address the next sexual assault that comes forward,” Dunn said.
In the rape case, the state’s attorney eventually decided there was not enough evidence to support charges. The incident happened last March.
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