As the U.S. Department of Education investigates whether Penn State University might have broken federal law in the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal, legal experts say the university might have violated civil rights laws designed to protect students and others from sex discrimination, McClatchy Newspapers report. If the university is found in violation of the law, Sandusky’s alleged victims could seek damages, experts said, and Penn State might have to pay millions to settle a case that’s already cost the university its reputation and its head football coach and president their jobs.
This week, nine civil rights organizations, led by the Women’s Law Project, asked the Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights for a review of Penn State’s compliance with Title IX, the 1972 law that barred sex-based discrimination on college campuses. Court cases have found that sexual assault fits the definition of sex discrimination. The organizations said the Sandusky case raises troubling questions about whether the university treats student athletes and athletic officials more favorably in cases of alleged sexual assault.