On Tuesday, February 16, Niagara University announced that an investigation into allegations of Title IX violations had concluded. The findings of this investigation, conducted by Lipsitz Green Scime Cambria, indicated that Niagara University and its personnel fully complied with Title IX requirements.
Barry Covert, a senior partner with the firm and a criminal defense attorney with Title IX experience, spoke to WGRZ and the Buffalo News about the results of the investigation. The full story is available on the WGRZ website and the Buffalo News website.
Background of investigation
The investigation into Niagara University’s Title IX compliance was launched after a student made an online petition calling for the removal of Carrie McLaughlin, the school’s Dean of Students, and claimed that a sexual assault complaint against a member of the school’s men’s basketball team had been mishandled. According to the Buffalo News, a sexual assault report of this nature was never filed with Niagara County law enforcement. Federal law does not allow the university to comment on whether a rape allegation was made. “The procedures for handling sexual assault cases at Niagara University and in connection with the university’s programs or activities, including the strict confidentiality requirements, are carefully regulated by Title IX, the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), and New York State’s ‘Enough is Enough’ legislation,” Barry Covert told WGRZ. “Notably, those laws strictly prohibit the university from disclosing or discussing particular allegations or the individuals affected.”
Results of investigation
Mr. Covert, who led the investigation and wrote the report, released a statement saying, “After carefully reviewing all of the relevant information over a two-month period, our investigation team determined that the university fully investigated each of the sexual assault matters raised in the petition and its accompanying comments.” He also told WGRZ that, “with respect to any Title IX allegations set forth in the petition or the comments to the petition, the university followed all of the procedures required by Title IX.”
In an interview with the Buffalo News, Mr. Covert said, “My investigation was widespread. I was given full access to all of the relevant files, electronic communications, access to individuals I would want to interview. We conducted well over 50 interviews and we found that, in the cases where there were allegations relating to Title IX, that the university fully followed all of the Title IX statutes and procedures set forth in those statutes.”
Both the Buffalo News and WGRZ report that Carrie McLaughlin will not be returing to her post as Dean of Students.
About Barry N. Covert
Mr. Covert, a senior partner in Lipsitz Green Scime Cambria’s Criminal Defense Trials and Appeals Practice Area, is an attorney with experience in Title IX matters. He is known for his aggressive representation of clients in the areas of New York State and federal criminal trials and appeals; driving while intoxicated; constitutional law, including First Amendment, civil rights actions, and federal False Claims Act; defending against allegations of scientific misconduct and fraud, research misconduct and fraud, plagiarism, and fabrication of evidence; and professional licensing defense. Mr. Covert frequently provides legal analysis for WGRZ and other media outlets.