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As alumni claim sexual assault is mishandled, Christendom College vows to improve

Following allegations that Christendom College mishandled student sexual assault reports, the college’s administration has said it is committed to doing better.

Donna Bethell, chair of the college’s board, told CNA that Christendom takes recent reports seriously, and has hired an outside firm to conduct a review of the college’s policies regarding sexual assault prevention and reporting.

“We have brought in a professional group that is expert in sexual assault policies and procedures, and they are reviewing our entire program and will give us a report on whether we are meeting best practices – not just Title IX, those are regulatory minimum requirements – but best practices in providing our students with the protection and services they need.”

In mid-January, the small Catholic college in Front Royal, Virginia was rocked by allegations that the administration had mishandled several cases of sexual assault in the Christendom community. The initial allegations were published in a series of blog posts by Catholic writer Simcha Fisher.

Among those who came forward with their stories is Adele Smith, who says that she was raped by her then-boyfriend during a date in Shenandoah National Park in 2009. Smith was a sophomore at Christendom, where her boyfriend was also a student.

Smith told CNA it took her a while to process what had happened to her. She eventually filed a report with both local police and the park service, but was told that there was very little chance of a conviction.

Meanwhile, she said, her alleged rapist was continuing to verbally harass her on campus, and her physical and mental health were suffering.

Read more at Catholic News Agency. 

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