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State House Backs Campus Sex Assault Bill

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Connecticut State Capitol (WTIC's Michael Guerrera)

Connecticut State Capitol (WTIC’s Michael Guerrera)

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) _ Connecticut lawmakers overwhelmingly approved legislation Thursday that would overhaul how college and university officials in the state respond to sexual assault and violence on campus.

The state House of Representatives voted 144-0 to tighten reporting requirements two months after the University of Connecticut faced a federal lawsuit, claiming it reacted to reports of sexual assaults on its main campus in Storrs with deliberate indifference or worse. UConn denies the accusation.

The legislation requires reporting of sexual violence at an institution of higher education and greater details in a campus crime report. The report must include each incidence of intimate partner violence reported to the local or State Police, college or university.

It also requires schools to establish Sexual Assault Response Teams that include counselors, police, faculty and others.

The measure now heads to the state Senate.

“This legislation will hold colleges responsible for prevention of sexual assaults,” said Rep. Roberta Willis, chairwoman of the House Higher Education and Employment Advancement Committee. “Culture change must occur on campus, and this bill is a move to change the present environment.”

The legislation requires that each incidence of intimate partner violence be reported to local or State Police or college or university and disclosure of procedures regarding reporting of sexual assault or intimate partner violence. In addition, higher education institutions must provide to victims information regarding their rights and applicable services.

Current law allows a victim of sexual assault or intimate partner violence to request a disciplinary hearing. The new legislation requires that the official conducting the hearing be trained annually regarding issues related to sexual assault and intimate partner violence.

(© Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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