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UNC: Feds to visit campus in sexual assaults probe

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CHAPEL HILL, N.C. -

Federal inspectors who want to know if the University of North Carolina has been accurately reporting campus crimes as required by federal law are to visit the campus at Chapel Hill next month, the school said Friday.
    
U.S. Education Department inspectors are responding after a former assistant dean of students accused the school of underreporting sexual assault cases for 2010 in the university's annual report on campus crime to the federal government.
    
The federal Clery Act requires campuses participating in federal financial aid programs to collect and disclose crime statistics and security information.
    
The former university employee, Melinda Manning, resigned in December. She did not respond to a message seeking comment Friday.
    
UNC-Chapel Hill has denied underreporting crimes and said it's cooperating with the investigation. The university this week provided the federal agency with a spreadsheet detailing all student complaints of sexual harassment or assault through this month and what was done in each case. The school did not immediately respond to a request by The Associated Press to provide a copy of the spreadsheet.

Read UNC's formal response

"We expected this review, and will cooperate fully with the review team," Chancellor Holden Thorp said in a statement. "We are committed to complying with the Clery Act and properly informing students and the campus community about criminal activity and safety threats. The review is an opportunity to make additional improvements if needed."
    
Thorp is resigning in June to become the chief academic officer of Washington University in St. Louis.
    
The university also responded by a deadline Thursday to questions posed as part of an investigation by the Education Department's Office for Civil Rights.
    
Manning, three students and one former student in January alleged violations of Title IX, education's gender-equity law, in the handling of sexual assault cases. Two of the women who have spoken for the group did not respond to requests for comment Friday.
    
The federal agency could punish a violating university by cutting off federal funding, but that's never happened.
    
Neither complaint against UNC-CH has been released, but the agency's letter acknowledging the investigation alleges that the nation's oldest public university failed to respond appropriately to sexual assault concerns and that it didn't provide impartial investigations. The complaint also alleges the school didn't have appropriate grievance procedures and didn't provide appropriate training for residential life staff and others.
    
The school this month hired two new employees to investigate sexual assault allegations and help victims.

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