After nearly a week of silence, administrators began Thursday to address allegations against UNC’s handling of sexual assault cases that emerged from a complaint filed Jan. 16 with the U.S. Department of Education.
“The allegations, with respect to the underreporting of sexual assault, are false — they are untrue, and they are just plain wrong,” Vice Chancellor and General Counsel Leslie Strohm said at a UNC Board of Trustees meeting Thursday.
At the meeting, Strohm countered former Assistant Dean of Students Melinda Manning’s accusation in the complaint that the University Counsel’s office pressured her to underreport cases of sexual assault.
“We all know that allegations that are included on the front page of a widely read paper do enduring damage,” Strohm said. “We also know, if we think back, that allegations — even when they’re printed on the front page of a widely read paper — can be false.”
The complaint, authored by three current students, one former student and Manning, was filed with the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights and obtained by The Daily Tar Heel.
The complaint says the number of sexual assault cases that Manning submitted for 2010 was questioned by Office of University Counsel employees, who said the numbers were “too high” and suggested she review them.
The complaint says that the number of sexual assaults that appeared in the University’s Clery report for 2010 was three lower than the number Manning originally submitted.
The Clery Act requires all federally funded campuses to report crime statistics to the federal government.
At the meeting, Strohm provided trustees with an email from Manning addressed to Dean of Students Jonathan Sauls, dated Sept. 13, 2011. In the email, Manning wrote that there were 16 total sex offenses in 2010 — 12 on-campus offenses and four off-campus offenses.