Marquette response to allegations eyed

MILWAUKEE -- The U.S. Department of Education is reviewing how Marquette University handled two cases of alleged sexual assault involving athletes, and agency spokeswoman said.

The review falls under the federal Clery Act, the same act that prompted federal authorities to investigate sexual abuse allegations involving former assistant Penn State football coach Jerry Sandusky.

The Clery Act requires all colleges and universities that participate in federal financial aid programs to keep and disclose information about crime on or near their campuses.

Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm said in May that law enforcement couldn't adequately investigate the two alleged sexual assault cases because Marquette's public safety department didn't tell authorities about the allegations and Chisholm therefore couldn't file charges.

The school had previously advised students of available options, including reporting the allegations to the police department. The school has since changed its protocol to start notifying police immediately of sexual assault allegations.

Jane Glickman, a spokeswoman for the Department of Education, declined to discuss the details until investigators issue a determination letter. Marquette was told it was under investigation on Oct. 4. Glickman said the review was under way.

The federal Office of Student Aid can fine schools for violations of the Clery Act. Such fines can be as high as $27,500 per violation.

Marquette spokeswoman Mary Pat Pfeil told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel the department has not requested on-campus interviews.

"As it has in other cases involving reports of sexual violence on college campuses, the U.S. Department of Education is conducting a paper program review of Marquette University relative to reporting required under the Clery Act," she said. "The university has provided USDE with all requested information."

Marquette has not identified which sport the athletes participated in. Interim athletic director Mike Broeker said all the athletes involved were disciplined under the student conduct code as well as athletic department rules. He did not disclose the punishment.

In an October 2010 case, one of the four accused athletes said the athletes and the coaching staff met and discussed the incident before any law enforcement officer was able to interview the suspects. In addition, one of the athletes allegedly involved texted the accuser during that meeting, asking whether she had reported the incident to Marquette's public safety department.

In a separate incident, an athlete was accused of sexually assaulting a woman Feb. 27 on campus. The Marquette public safety department did not tell police about it, and the female student reported it to police March 31.