OCR set to investigate student’s complaint

She accused university administrators of improperly handling her rape in 2013.

The U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights will investigate allegations that were raised against Temple in a Title IX complaint filed by a student this past June, while also continuing to examine the university’s alleged negligence in handling other reports of sexual violence, according to a document obtained by The Temple News.

The OCR will specifically look into whether Temple failed to address multiple cases of sexual harassment reported to university officials by liberal arts student Harmony-Jazmyne Rodriguez, who is on a leave of absence, and whether she was discriminated against based on her being a transgender woman. Although Rodriguez allowed The Temple News to use her full name, she has previously stated that she doesn’t feel comfortable – “emotionally or physically” – returning to Main Campus.

The document detailing the current status of the complaint is a letter from an OCR representative to Rodriguez, the latter of whom released it to The Temple News.

In May, the U.S. Department of Education named Temple as one of 55 universities nationwide under investigation for possible Title IX violations in the handling of sexual assault and harassment cases.

In the letter, the OCR states that it will investigate allegations detailed in the June complaint of how an administrator threatened to remove Rodriguez from a student organization because of her reported claims of sexual harassment and assault.

The letter addressed to Rodriguez from the OCR stated that her claim that the university did not properly respond to her report of sexual assault will not proceed because it overlaps with a broader investigation into Temple and its “alleged failure to promptly and equitably respond to complaints, reports and/or incidents of sexual violence of which it had notice, thereby subjecting students to a sexually hostile environment.”

When asked about the allegations outlined in the complaint, a university spokesman said only that “Temple University fully cooperates in any OCR investigation.”

Rodriguez’ claim of disability discrimination, addressed in her complaint, will not be investigated by the OCR due to a “lack of sufficient detail,” according to the letter addressed to her.

According to files of her complaint which she released to The Temple News, Rodriguez was raped in her Temple Towers apartment in August 2013 after meeting the alleged perpetrator, a male student, at Maxi’s Pizza, Subs & Bar on Liacouras Walk.

Rodriguez said she invited the man to her apartment and he raped her in the living room. Rodriguez said she was intoxicated at the time, but wrote in her complaint that it “was excruciating to have people focus on drinking as a cause of rape rather than rapists.”

Complying with the university’s policy for guests in residential buildings, Rodriguez said she accompanied the suspect to the front desk to sign him out after the attack. After Allied Barton security noticed she was intoxicated, the complaint reads, resident assistants were notified and Temple Police were contacted.

“When the officer arrived, the security, RAs, and the cops let my assailant leave and he ran out of the building,” Rodriguez wrote. “Nobody asked about the assailant at all that night.”

Rodriguez said she was taken to Hahnemann University Hospital for treatment and began to remember more details there the next morning after the alcohol wore off. She added that by the time she received medical care, she had already showered, making it too late to collect any evidence.

Rodriguez’ reports of the incident went to the Wellness Resource Center, the complaint reads, which allegedly told her rape was “outside of their jurisdiction.” By contrast, the WRC’s website states “any Temple staff will help you to contact resources to report incidents and to get help.”

The OCR will also investigate other parts of Rodriguez’ complaint, including how someone she met online – with whom she exchanged “emails and pictures of a sexual nature” – stalked her prior to the alleged rape. Rodriguez also said another individual chased her and disparaged her gender identity, threatening to “crack [her] skull.”

The complaint may be settled prior to the investigation’s completion if both parties negotiate a voluntary agreement of resolution.

Avery Maehrer can be reached at avery.maehrer@temple.edu and on twitter @AveryMaehrer

Joe Brandt and Patricia Madej contributed reporting.

CORRECTION: A version of this story that appeared in print stated that the investigation would not include Rodriguez’ complaint regarding gender-based discrimination. The investigation will cover that complaint, but will not include an examination of her claim of discrimination based on a disability.

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