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Report out on University of Missouri sexual assault case, suicide

The saga of the 20-year-old University of Missouri swimmer's suicide continues with the release of an independent report claiming that the university neglected to follow some precepts of federal law while handling her case. Particularly noted were the university's lack of a policy to advise employees of obligations to report incidents where sexual harassment and assault are suspected.

The findings concluded that the Columbia campus administrators had an obligation to investigate the coed's suicide after her parents raised the issues of the events that led up to her taking her own life. The young woman had alleged sexual assault by up to three football players when she was still a freshman at the university. The report made no specific recommendations for proposed changes for the university.

University officials had previously claimed that they didn't act sooner under Title IX provisions because neither the girl nor her parents had requested that police investigate. They also allegedly ignored the university's request for additional information. The incident was referred to the Columbia Police Department earlier this year after an ESPN program featured the story.

Students on a university campus have a reasonable expectation of being safe from sexual predators, especially those in the form of their fellow classmates. Just as in the workplace, no student or employee must subject themselves to unwelcome sexual behavior in order to receive an education or a paycheck.

If you are subjected to a hostile working environment or unwelcome sexual behavior, be proactive and document each incident, noting times and witnesses who are present. If your concerns are not taken seriously by the human resources department of your company, you may need to take the next step and consult a Missouri employment law attorney for advice and guidance.

Source: Huffington Post, "University Of Missouri Mishandled Sexual Assault Case, Review Finds" Alan Scher Zagier, Apr. 11, 2014

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