Athletes, assaults and inaction

Also on Wednesday afternoon, Mallory's former roommate and Swilling friend Alysha Zephyr forwarded a statement to "Outside the Lines" that called Mallory's claims against Swilling a "lie." She said Mallory acknowledged having sex with Swilling to her and another roommate. Zephyr, whom "Outside the Lines" contacted several months ago but who would not talk on the record, said in the statement she believed Mallory's claims were a "desperate effort to get her fiancee to take her back and mend her reputation."

Swilling's attorney said "the allegations in the recent lawsuit that Patrick sexually assaulted other women are unsubstantiated and false. The lawsuit appears to be an attempt to further damage Patrick's reputation. ... "

Swilling had been waiting to be cleared academically by the NCAA so he can play football for Tulsa this fall, but he announced on Twitter this week that the NCAA denied his waiver.

Tulsa officials declined an interview request from "Outside the Lines" to discuss Swilling's case.

'It can take too long'

Details of how college officials at Missouri, Southern Idaho and Tulsa handled the assault allegations by students are prime examples of what the U.S. Department of Education wants to see stop, said the department's Lhamon.

"We have colleges and institutions that are not responding quickly," she said. "So they get a complaint, but they sit on it. And they don't investigate. And they let the facts grow stale. That can take too long to get relief for the student community. It can take too long to make sure that kids are safe."

In 2011, the department sent a 19-page letter to colleges and universities re-emphasizing their obligations under Title IX and stressing the importance of investigating reports of violence. After that letter received national media attention, Lhamon said, her office saw an 88 percent increase in the complaints about how institutions were addressing such reports. She also said she believes the increase could also be the result of an increase in campus sexual assaults overall.

Making clear to schools that they "shouldn't take a backseat to the criminal justice process" is important, Lhamon said, because Title IX -- a law with roots in civil rights and gender equity -- addresses questions that go beyond law enforcement.

"Should a student stay in the same course schedule? Should a student stay in the same dormitory? Can a student feel safe going to the library or not?" she said.

This year, President Barack Obama established a White House task force to address sexual assaults among college students, and several weeks ago members of the U.S. House and Senate introduced bipartisan bills designed to crack down on colleges that fail to act.

The bills would improve support services for survivors, instill mandatory training for campus personnel and improve coordination with law enforcement. They also would prevent athletic departments from being the sole arbiter of cases involving student-athletes. If schools don't follow Title IX provisions, they face a penalty of up to 1 percent of their operating budget.

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