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Ohio State's Sexual Assault Office Didn't Report 57 Potential Felonies

The Ohio State University

An independent audit shows that The Ohio State University's now-closed sexual assault support center failed to report almost 60 potential felonies to law enforcement, a violation of state law.

The university closedthe Sexual Civility and Empowerment Center last June and fired four employees.

WOSU obtained details about the audit through an email from university spokesman Ben Johnson. At the time, Ohio State hired independent auditors to review the center's files.

Johnson says the audit found 57 potential felonies the center should have reported to law enforcement but did not.

Those cases have since been reported. Twenty cases were reported to the Ohio State University Police Department, 30 to the Columbus Division of Police, and seven to other law enforcement agencies. The incidents in these cases mostly occurred in 2016-2017.

The 20 campus incidents were required to be reported in Ohio State’s yearly crime data report, which is mandated by the federal "Jeanne Clery Act." They were all properly reported under the act.

An Ohio State press release from 2018 says the center was closed after an external review found the center did not properly support victims or document and report information regarding some sexual assault complaints.

The university started investigating the Sexual Civility and Empowerment Center in 2016 with a human resources review. Two independent reviews later focused on reporting and structural issues within the office. Both reviews recommended further investigation.

“These reviews contain confidential information that, if released, would compromise student privacy, victim privacy and attorney-client privilege,” the 2018 press release states.

According to reports, SCE training labeled rape as "miscommunication" and reinforced rape myths. The unit's programming characterized sexual violence as "mistakes" and "the result of ignorance," while students reported being told that "if you're not ready to heal, our program is not for you."

Ohio State paid more than $1 million in legal fees to redesign its Title IX program and review the center's cases. More than half that sum went to Philadelphia law firm Cozen O’Connor, which conducted the audit.

According to Johnson, “the firm continues to work with the university in a limited capacity to advise on the ongoing implementation of the new Office of Institutional Equity.”

As of January, a STAR (Stress, Trauma and Resilience) Trauma Recovery Center case manager is available at the school's Counseling and Consultation Services. And as of March, a therapist is in the office several hours a week.

Ohio State also has two new confidential Aftercare Advocates on campus through a "Victims of Crime Act" grant awarded by the Ohio Attorney General’s office.

Adora Namigadde was a reporter for 89.7 NPR News. She joined WOSU News in February 2017. A Michigan native, she graduated from Wayne State University with a B.A. in Broadcast Journalism and a minor in French.