Review of Sex Policy Gains Support
McQuaid, Hugh, New Haven Register (New Haven, CT)
HARTFORD » The governor and top legislative leaders threw their support behind a Republican request Thursday for a legislative review of the University of Connecticut's sexual-assault policies in response to allegations raised earlier this week.
The House and Senate minority leaders, state Rep. Lawrence Cafero, R-Norwalk, and state Sen. John McKinney, R-Fairfield, called for a public hearing in response to the complaint filed Monday by seven women who claimed the university's responses to their sexual- assault cases were inadequate.
In a letter to the chairmen of the legislature's Higher Education and Public Safety committees, Cafero and McKinney requested a hearing to review UConn's policies to prevent sexual assault, support its victims and punish those responsible.
"We need a complete airing of these charges of sexual abuse and rape on campus and, just as troubling, UConn's response to the claims by these young women. We need a complete airing before the public on these matters," Cafero said in a statement.UConn police had 12 incidents of forcible sexual assault reported in 2010, eight in 2011 and 13 in 2012, according to a report on campus security.
McKinney said that, as the father of two daughters, he found the allegations especially troubling.
"It is our obligation as a legislature to ensure that state law is being followed and also to determine whether improvements in the law are required to adequately protect victims of sexual assault. As public officials and university administrators, we must work together to ensure our universities enforce a zero-tolerance policy on sexual assault," he said.
In a statement, UConn spokeswoman Stephanie Reitz said the school would be happy to share its policies with the General Assembly.
"The university would welcome the opportunity to participate in a public hearing on these issues, as well as to discuss our policies and processes that relate to sexual-assault prevention and education and the services available to all members of our community who are victims of sexual violence or harassment," she said.
At a Wednesday press conference, UConn President Susan Herbst called the allegations regarding the school's response "misguided." She said the university works hard to prevent sexual assault.
"This is a university that is devoting extraordinary resources toward preventing sexual violence in all its forms," Herbst said. "I completely reject the notion that UConn somehow doesn't care about these all-important issues, because nothing could be further from the truth."
But the request by the two Republicans led to statements from the press offices of Democratic leaders Thursday lending support to the idea of a formal hearing.
"I absolutely support the idea of holding public hearings on UConn's sexual-assault prevention and response procedures," Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said, adding that Herbst had assured him she's taking the allegations seriously. "As a parent and someone whose wife spent years working with victims of sexual assault, my heart goes out to the women that came forward this week. …