BYU Investigates Sexual Assault Case: Victim Madeline MacDonald At Fault? Did School Violate Title IX Regulations?

BYU students were investigated for a sexual assault incident Wednesday. BYU student Madeline MacDonald claims that when she was just an 18-year-old freshman at BYU, she was sexually assaultedby a man she met via online dating.

MacDonald reportedly addressed the sexual assault with BYU’s Title IX office. She said that the office then received a copy of the sexual assault report.

After reviewing her sexual assault claim, BYU then launched a swift investigation to see if MacDonald had violated BYU’s strict Mormon code that bans premarital sex and drinking.

According to the Associated Press, since 1949, all BYU students are to abide by the University’s honor code. This prohibits any sort of “sexual misconduct, obscene or indecent conduct or expressions, and involvement with pornographic, erotic, indecent or offensive material.”

Violators can be expelled or disciplined at BYU.

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MacDonald could now face disciplinary action herself for possibly violating BYU’s honor code while having her sexual assault claims undermined.

Utah prosecutors are backing MacDonald by questioning BYU’s long practice of investigating accusers or victims of sexual assault incidents as guilty.

The Inquisitr recently covered the BYU campus sexual assault story when the school first received national scrutiny for their decision to prosecute the sexual assault victim, who’s now known as MacDonald.

The Mormon-run BYU came under fire for allegedly perpetuating rape culture with their rigid honor code practices. Even members of the Mormon community, including BYU alumni, claim that the honor code prevents victims from stepping forward after being raped or sexually assaulted out of the fear of being punished or having the incident pinned as their fault.

Perhaps BYU President Kevin Worthen is feeling the pressure to re-evaluate the school’s honor code now in light of the latest BYU sexual assault investigation.

“I hope we have a system that people feel they can trust, particularly again the victims of sexual assault. And that we have one that creates an environment in which we minimize the number of sexual assaults on campus.”

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BYU did not mention exactly how many students would be investigated regarding the sexual assault case or the total of students who have come forward with reports of rape or sexual assault at BYU.

BYU also did not mention how many rape or sexual assault victims have been punished at the institution.

BYU did, however, ultimately tell MacDonald that she had not violated the honor code in light of her sexual assault case investigation. But MacDonald stressed that she was still made out to be at fault during the investigation,

“For those two weeks, I wasn’t sure if they were going to decide to kick me out or what they were going to do.”

And for two years, the case was swept under the rug, according to sources.

University of Arizona public health professor Mary Koss, an expert on sexual assault and rape, questions if BYU is violating its federal legal responsibilities under Title IX.

Koss said this of the BYU sexual assault investigation.

“The students agreed to be governed by that honor code when they came there. But they cannot put things in their contract to students that are in violation of federal guidelines on civil rights.”

Do you think that BYU has violated Title IX regulations in light of MacDonald’s sexual assault investigation?

[Photo by Rick Bowmer/AP Images]