Colleges, Universities, and School Districts are required under Title IX to provide survivors with a prompt, adequate, and impartial investigation should they choose to make a report, regardless of whether a police investigation is underway. The case of Larry Nassar and the USA Gymnastics sex abuse scandal was no exception. In 2014 a Title IX investigation was conducted against Larry Nassar after complaints were brought to the Michigan State’s Title IX Coordinator. Due to the fact that their investigation was conducted internally, conflict of interests may have influenced the outcome, allowing Nassar to continue his abuse for two more years. As a result, a U.S. Senator from Michigan called on Congress to launch a formal investigation into how the school handled the Nassar case.
So what trend will we see in 2018? Title IX Coordinators are now realizing that it is extremely important to the case and the University that investigations stay unbiased. To do so, it is in the school’s best interest to bring in help from outside. Sexual harassment allegations are very sensitive and it is vital for investigators to have a deep knowledge of best practices for investigating sexual discrimination as well as the legal requirements under Title IX. College leaders who are not trained in this area will not be able to obtain a detailed and unbiased report, as we have now seen in the Nassar case. In order to conduct a thorough and independent investigation, we will be seeing more and more Universities utilizing outside professionals.