Feds investigate after JMU student claims sex assault case was mishandled

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HARRISONBURG, Va. -- The U.S. Department of Education is looking into whether sexual assault cases at James Madison University have been mishandled.

The investigation stems from a complaint filed in January of 2014 by Sarah Butters , a former JMU student.

ButtersButters claims three Sigma Chi Fraternity brothers pulled off her bathing suit top during a spring break trip to Florida last year. She said the men used cell phones to record the incident and then passed the recording around to others.

Butters said her case went before the university's judicial panel, which opted for “expulsion after graduation," which means the three will be banned from campus after they graduate, according to WHSV.

She said two of the men graduated in May, but that the other can return in the fall if he so chooses.

"It just really disgusts me that JMU is still going to give diplomas to people they find responsible of sexual assault and sexual harassment," Butters said. "I think this school cares more about their image and their reputation of maintaining a safe environment than they do actually protecting the students."

The university said in a statement that it is forbidden to discuss any resolved or active judicial affairs cases, but that the school takes the wellbeing of students seriously.

Butters told the Huffington Postthat her grades dropped, she lost her financial aid and eventually dropped out because of the stress of the situation.

"What is a girl going to think that I had video proof and I still have to see these boys on campus?" Butters asked. "How would she ever feel comfortable coming forward?"

U Va. and the College of William and Mary are also being investigated by the Department of Education.

In fact, 62 schools around the country are under scrutiny.


  • Jay

    She needs to get over it and move on…….I have no doubt her aim is some type of $$ award/settlement….she had proof of what?? A bunch of college frats acting like college frats….she put herself in the situation unless she has an IQ of 70

    • Troll

      It is you who sounds like the one with an IQ of 70. “She put herself in the situation” … you should be arrested for red neck ignorance. Are you manalishi’s brother? athynz’s son? You sound like it jerkwad.

      • The Lone Ranger

        Where does the school have any responsibility and for what in this as it happened off campus (by over 1000 miles), wasn’t school sponsored (spring break) and has nothing to with school at all. Sounds like a police matter in Florida wherever jurisdiction it was in.

        People are too demanding on entities that have no business intervening where there clearly is no jurisdiction of the school. I would further say that JMU just put itself wide open for three lawsuits that will probably cost them plenty. With this girl’s logic, she could still complain and have repercussions against anyone in the school for what they would do to her 40 years from now.

        Case in point: Fairfax County, VA Employee Equal Opportunity office getting involved against a public corporation because an employee, who is operating a separate business, said he was discriminated against. Not their purview, nor their place to be involved using county taxpayer funds to intervene in a private business action.

        While it is a sad thing to happen to her, if that’s what really happened, it is illogical to expect an entity, with no jurisdiction, to do something about it, unless she is privileged and related to someone in the federal or state government and we have yet another abuse of power by a government worker. Guess those three guys are lucky her uncle or father wasn’t John Koskinen head of the IRS or he would be lying again at another congressional hearing why he was picking on them.

    • Robbie

      I really think you’re on to something there Jay. I think every girl that smiles at a guy is asking for it. Take you for instance…how about you going out for a walk one night in a pair of gym shorts and this big ole boy throw’s you over a log while his buddy plays dueling banjos. You get the picture.

      • Jay

        Bull….why are Virginia schools, the Feds, etc. wasting tax $$ on an event that occurred in Florida amongst adults. This angel knew very well what Spring Break in FL is all about…if not, she’s an idiot( hence, the IQ). Regardless, we are supposed to believe this is why she flunked out of school…..Bull

    • Liz

      Get over it and move on? You’re a sick, ignorant individual who clearly has no empathy. This young woman was taken advantage of. It doesn’t matter if she was black out drunk and it does not matter what she was wearing. A woman who is clearly not able to give consent and who stated in the video to the men “this isn’t a good idea” is NOT responsible for what happened. Being in a frat does not negate these men of the sick thing that they did and that is most certainly not an excuse. There is NO excuse for what happened and she should not “get over it and move on.” Ridiculous. If someone violated and degraded you, video taped it and then sent it around to your peers, I have a feeling you would feel a little differently.

  • amber

    Butters isnt like that n she isnt money hungry! Know all ur facts before you run ur mouth!! They should have banned them n not let them graduate at after that. It doesnt make it right for a guy to do that to a female!!

    • Jess

      It’s terrible that this happened to this woman, but I don’t understand what JMU has to do with any of it. She was blacked out drunk and wound up in a bad situation. If she is this upset about it, why not go to Florida police? Why not press charges? The school has nothing to do with the drunk shenaninagans going on during Spring Break in Florida (I’m sure she knew what she was getting into).

  • Abee

    Jay, you’re an idiot. Please stay off the internet and spend some quality time in a library. Preferably, a library in that small town where you are clearly from.

    • The Lone Ranger

      “What you dislike in another, take care to correct in yourself” Thomas Sprat. Better lose that hope and change attitude very quickly. It doesn’t work in reality.

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