Louisiana colleges to face new rules for misconduct claims

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — An effort to strengthen the requirements for how Louisiana colleges must handle sexual misconduct claims and spell out who is required to report such allegations is headed to the governor’s desk, after the Senate gave the bill final passage Wednesday.

The Senate voted 36-0 for the measure sponsored by Republican Sen. Beth Mizell, of Franklinton. That vote agreed to House changes to the bill and sent it to Gov. John Bel Edwards, a Democrat who supports the legislation and is expected to sign it into law.

The measure pushed by female lawmakers stems from an independent report that detailed years of widespread mishandling of sexual misconduct claims at Louisiana State University.

Colleges will be required to fire employees who don’t report sexual misconduct, harassment and abuse allegations covered under federal Title IX laws or who make reports that are knowingly false. They will have to follow new training requirements and publish detailed reports online about how they handle misconduct claims. The new law will ban retaliation against people who report allegations and limit their liability from lawsuits.

LSU hired independent law firm Husch Blackwell to review its response to sexual misconduct complaints after reporting by USA Today scrutinized the university’s handling of assault cases implicating two former football players. The blistering report outlined multiple examples of the university ignoring student allegations of rape, domestic violence and assault.