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Review finds UNC did not 'retaliate' against woman who reported sexual assault

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A crowd of supporters rally on UNC's campus in support of a student who claims she was raped. A crowd of supporters rally on UNC's campus in support of a student who claims she was raped.
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. -

An independent review of the University of North Carolina's handling of sexual assault allegations found the university did not "retaliate" against a woman who reported the incident, according to a letter to the university from Chancellor Holden Thorp.

Landen Gambill was one of several students who spoke out publicly about a complaint she and others filed claiming the university pressured an administrator into under-reporting sexual assault cases.

Gambill says she was raped by an ex-boyfriend more than a year ago when she was a freshman.

Because she has been outspoken about that incident and the complaint, she said the university retaliated against her for talking by charging her with an honor code violation.

In response, the university commissioned an independent, outside review of the allegations that the university retaliated by bringing an Honor Court charge against Gambill.

While not specifically naming Gambill, Thorp issued a statement to the campus community explaining that an independent review of the university's actions found that the school did not retaliate against a student.

"The review -- conducted by Barbara Lee, a nationally recognized expert in handling sexual harassment grievances and a human resource management professor at Rutgers University -- found no evidence that the University retaliated against the student," Thorp said.

Gambill says the person who sexually assaulted her filed a complaint with the university claiming "I was making an intimidating environment for him on campus."

Because Gambill's abuser filed a charge against her, a provision in the university's Honor Code called for her to be charged with "disruptive or intimidating behavior."

The university suspended its honor court proceeding against Gambill, a day after Gambill filed her complaint with the Office for Civil Rights in the U.S. Department of Education.

"This review brought into sharp focus concerns about this particular Honor Code provision," Thorp said.

Thorp said Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Winston Crisp recommends that "no student should be charged with violating this section of the Honor Code until the Committee on Student Conduct can adequately evaluate the provision."

The Committee on Student Conduct is comprised of UNC students, faculty and administrators.

Meanwhile, the Office of Civil Rights is investigating claims that the university failed to fully report its crime statistics. The investigation comes after the OCR received complaints about the University's response to sexual assault allegations.

The OCR says the complainants allege the University did not "provide appropriate grievance procedures regarding sexual harassment, including sexual assault/sexual violence," nor did it "provide adequate and impartial investigations of sexual harassment" or "provide appropriate training ... regarding sexual harassment, including sexual assault/sexual violence."

The investigation covers campus crime statistics from 2009 through 2011.

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