University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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Case Name Education Department OCR Investigation of Tufts ED-MA-0003
Docket / Court 01-10-2089 ( No Court )
State/Territory Massachusetts
Case Type(s) Education
Case Summary
In 2011, the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights (OCR) initiated this investigation against Tufts University under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. The investigation pertained to a complaint alleging that the University had not responded promptly or equitably to a ... read more >
In 2011, the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights (OCR) initiated this investigation against Tufts University under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. The investigation pertained to a complaint alleging that the University had not responded promptly or equitably to a sexual assault complaint made by a female student.

In September 2010, an original complaint was made by the student reporting that she was sexually assaulted and that the University had retaliated against her by threatening to remove her from a student leadership program should she not attend the program's weekly meeting with the accused student. In February 2011, the student amended the original complaint to further allege that the University failed to respond appropriately to her original complaint and that the internal investigation had not progressed in a prompt or equitable manner.

OCR's investigation found that the University had not retaliated against the student, but had failed to provide a prompt and equitable response to complaints of sexual harassment as required by Title IX.

In 2013, members of the Tufts student body wrote an open letter to the University president and articulated their concerns about sexual misconduct on the University campus. As a result, the president created a task force comprised of University students, faculty, and staff. The task force worked to address students' concerns by overhauling University procedures, develop new programs to educate University community members about sexual misconduct, and increase the transparency surrounding sexual misconduct on campus.

On April 17, 2014, the University entered into an agreement with OCR to take certain steps to resolve the compliance concerns that arose from OCR's investigation. These steps included retaining a Title IX Coordinator, revising the University's policies and procedures to provide a grievance procedure that ensured prompt and equitable resolution of sexual assault and harassment allegations, providing timely and effective interim relief for complainants, and reviewing all sexual assault and harassment complaints filed since the 2011-2012 school year to assess whether these complaints were handled appropriately.

On April 26, 2014, the University informed OCR it was "revoking" the agreement. On April 28, 2014, under federal civil rights regulations, OCR issued a press release explaining that it was therefore initiating proceedings to terminate federal financial support of the University (which includes eligibility for federal financial aid) or to enforce the agreement.

Under that "death penalty" threat, in May 2014, the University agreed to reenter its agreement with OCR. The University reaffirmed its commitment to working with OCR and ensuring compliance with Title IX through improved policies and procedures.

The University's sexual misconduct task force issued its final report in May 2016. The report outlined the steps the University had taken to prevent sexual misconduct on campus and how it was working with OCR to improve its policies and procedures relating to sexual misconduct.

This settlement agreement has no specified end date, and the decision to terminate the ongoing supervision is at the sole discretion of OCR. We could not find any evidence of continued enforcement efforts or breach of the agreement by Tufts.

Since then, the Department of Education has actually rescinded the guidance it issued in 2011 and 2014, and has issued a proposed rule that would, among other things, limit the definition of what is considered sexual harassment and assault. The rule would also allow universities to switch from a preponderance of the evidence standard to requiring clear and convincing evidence. The Department issued the proposed rule on November 16, 2018, and announced a 60-day public comment period. Tufts University President Anthony Monaco submitted a letter during the comment period criticizing the proposed changes, and Tufts has since announced that it intends to continue using a preponderance of the evidence standard when evaluating claims.

Maria Ricaurte - 11/01/2015
Amelia Huckins - 02/09/2017
Chris Pollack - 03/20/2019

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Issues and Causes of Action
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Affected Gender
Content of Injunction
Plaintiff Type
Non-DOJ federal government plaintiff
Special Case Type
Type of Facility
Non-government non-profit
Causes of Action Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, 20 U.S.C. ยงยง 1681 et seq.
Defendant(s) Tufts University
Plaintiff Description The Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights in response to a complaint by a female student who claimed Tufts had failed to take prompt and equitable steps to investigate and respond sexual assault.
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Settlement
Form of Settlement Private Settlement Agreement
Order Duration 2014 - n/a
Filed 2010
Case Ongoing Perhaps, but long-dormant
Additional Resources
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  Chronicle of Higher Education, Title IX Tracker: Tufts University
Chronicle of Higher Education
Date: Jan. 5, 2019
By: Chronicle of Higher Education
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

No docket sheet currently in the collection
General Documents
[Notification letter for Tufts University]
ED-MA-0003-0005.pdf | External Link | Detail
Date: 09/23/2010
[Notification letter for Tufts University]
ED-MA-0003-0006.pdf | Detail
Date: 09/23/2010
[Notification letter for Tufts University]
ED-MA-0003-0008.pdf | Detail
Date: 10/26/2010
[Notification letter for Tufts University]
ED-MA-0003-0009.pdf | Detail
Date: 10/26/2010
[Tufts University Letter of Findings]
ED-MA-0003-0007.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/30/2013
[Resolution Agreement]
ED-MA-0003-0002.pdf | External Link | Detail
Date: 04/17/2014
[Tufts University Letter of Findings]
ED-MA-0003-0001.pdf | External Link | Detail
Date: 04/28/2014
Press Release
ED-MA-0003-0003.pdf | External Link | Detail
Date: 04/28/2014
Tufts Sexual Misconduct Prevention Task Force Final Report
ED-MA-0003-0004.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/05/2016
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Plaintiff's Lawyers Hibino, Thomas J. (Massachusetts) show/hide docs
ED-MA-0003-0001 | ED-MA-0003-0008 | ED-MA-0003-0009
Defendant's Lawyers Jeka, Mary R. (Massachusetts) show/hide docs
ED-MA-0003-0001 | ED-MA-0003-0002

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