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Press Release

Justice Department Reaches Settlement to Address and Prevent Sexual Assault and Harassment at Wheaton College

For Immediate Release
Office of Public Affairs

The Justice Department reached a resolution agreement today with Wheaton College in Massachusetts to ensure the college implements a swift and effective response to allegations of sexual assault and harassment involving students. 

In August 2015, after receiving a complaint regarding Wheaton’s handling of a report of sexual assault, the department initiated an investigation and compliance review under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, which prohibits sex discrimination in education programs and activities receiving federal financial assistance.  The department reviewed Wheaton’s handling of sexual assault and harassment complaints over an approximately three and a half-year period, as well as its policies, grievance procedures, training and student education efforts.

The agreement details specific steps Wheaton will take to:

  • revise its policies, procedures and investigative practices to provide a grievance process that ensures prompt and equitable resolution of sexual assault and harassment allegations; 
  • adequately investigate and respond to allegations of retaliation by students who have alleged sexual harassment or assault;
  • take sufficient action to fully eliminate a hostile environment based on sex, prevent its recurrence and remedy its effects; and
  • ensure that the individuals designated to coordinate its Title IX efforts receive adequate training and coordinate these efforts effectively. 

“We commend Wheaton College and President Hanno for their cooperation in our review as well as their work to foster a safe and healthy campus environment where all students can achieve their full potential,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division.  “This agreement will protect the civil rights of all students and ensure the college uses a prompt, fair and reliable process for responding to allegations of sexual assault.  We look forward to continuing our collaborative work.”

The prevention of sex-based discrimination is a top priority of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division.  Additional information about the Civil Rights Division is available at

Updated September 21, 2016

Civil Rights
Press Release Number: 10-1071