Yale fined $165,000 for Clery Act violations

The Department of Education has fined Yale $165,000 for inadequate reporting of campus crime statistics, including the omission of four incidents of forcible sex offenses in 2001 and 2002, according to an April 19 letter to the University’s administration.

The punishment, which comes two years after the conclusion of a seven-year investigation into Yale’s compliance with the Clery Act, consists of a $27,500 fine for each of the four omitted sex offenses and two additional fines for failing to include crime statistics from Yale-New Haven Hospital in the University’s annual report and failing to include required policy statements in its 2004 assessment. According to the DOE, Yale rendered its crime reports “incomplete and unreliable” by violating Clery Act regulations, which require institutions to compile data on certain crimes, such as sexual assault, on an annual basis.

The University corrected all issues raised with its crime reporting in 2004, except for the reporting of spaces at Yale-New Haven, which was resolved in 2010, said Yale spokesman Tom Conroy. But the DOE maintains that the University’s changes do not diminish the seriousness of previous inadequate reporting.

“Yale’s correction of the crime statistics only after the department alerted the university of its obligations in 2004 does not excuse its earlier failure to comply with its legal obligations,” said DOE Administrative Actions and Appeals Director Mary Gust in the April letter.

 

The DOE investigation was opened in 2004 after a July-August 2004 Yale Alumni Magazine article titled “Lux, Veritas, and Sexual Trespass” was brought to the attention of S. Daniel Carter, who was then senior vice president at the nonprofit Clery Center for Security On Campus. Carter filed the original complaint regarding the University’s compliance with campus security requirements with the Department of Education.

The department first found Yale to be noncompliant with the Clery Act in a 2010 report to the University, and detailed the conclusions of its investigation in a 2011 letter to University President Richard Levin. Yale had omitted two forcible sex offenses in 2001 and two in 2002 from its annual campus crime report, the 2011 letter stated. The University had also failed to “properly define its campus,” and therefore neglected to provide crime statistics for seven additional spaces within the Yale-New Haven Hospital.

In addition, Yale’s 2004 report lacked “critical information,” including seven required statements of campus policies related to crime reporting and response.

But Yale has disputed the legitimacy of these findings under the Clery Act, sending a written request to the DOE before the May 9 deadline listed in the letter asking the department to “ reconsider and lower the fine,” Conroy told the News on Wednesday night.

“The University believes that the Department’s imposition of maximum fines is not warranted based on the particular situations that resulted in findings of violations and, as a result, does not meaningfully advance the goals of the Clery Act,” Conroy said.

Yale also maintains that the seven spaces in Yale-New Haven Hospital are not technically required in terms of crime reporting under the Clery Act, though they have been included in Yale’s crime reports since 2010.

Carter said many universities succeed in requests to lower fines, often by reaching a settlement agreement with the DOE, but he added that fine reductions are generally minimal.

At the time the DOE opened its investigation into Yale in 2004, only one other institution had been fined for violating the Clery Act, Carter said, but fines have become the norm for cases handled since 2008. The fines imposed in Clery cases generally range from $80,000 to $100,000, though they have exceeded $300,000 in some cases, Carter said.

The duration of the investigation into Yale’s crime reporting is unique, Carter said, as it spanned nearly seven years and included an on-site review in 2007 to allow for a more detailed examination.

“I don’t know why it has taken so long,” Carter said. “It’s a complete aberration how this case has been handled.”

The DOE’s investigation into Yale’s compliance with the Clery Act is entirely separate from and has occurred under a different time frame than the investigation conducted by the department’s Office of Civil Rights into the University’s sexual climate. The latter investigation began in March 2011 after 16 students and alumni filed a Title IX complaint with the OCR and ended last June after the office reached an agreement with the University.

But Carter said the two investigations both indicate a need for stronger institutional procedures at Yale with regard to sexual misconduct response and reporting.

Alexandra Brodsky ’12 LAW ’16, one of the 2011 Title IX complainants, said that while the fines will not significantly impact Yale financially, they represent “real sanctions” delivered by the DOE.

“You can’t spin $165,000 fine into anything good, and I think that public embarrassment is the only way to motivate Yale to change its policies on sexual violence,” Brodsky said.

Yale’s annual safety report on campus crime is released near the beginning of October.

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