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SMU, Dallas DA To Form Sex Assault Task Force

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(credit: KTVT/KTXA) Steve Pickett
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DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Two alleged sexual assault cases on the SMU campus have generated a review of the university’s method of handling sex assault claims.

University President Gerald Turner announced the formation of a SMU sexual misconduct policy task force after meeting with Dallas District Attorney Craig Watkins Monday.

Within the past month, SMU has faced criticism over the university’s current student conduct process that evaluates alleged sexual misconduct. Some cases are heard at the school level, before moving to prosecutors.

There are two current sexual assault cases from this campus under current criminal investigation.  One took months of SMU evaluation via a student conduct process, the other just 48 hours.

The disparity generated the meeting between Turner and Watkins.

The law mandates universities provide conduct reviews for college students, even in sex assault claims.

SMU points to federal law. However, Watkins says there must be a balance. “We’re going to develop a policy that allows us to pursue a prosecution timely, and also have the school fit within the requirements of federal law.”

President Turner issued a statement following Monday’s meeting, announcing the review of school policies on sexual misconduct.

On the North Dallas campus a rape accusation is viewed as student misconduct and is handled at the university level first.

The task force, including a representative from the DA’s office, will look for ways to expedite the criminal side of the equation.

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