The US State Department said on Friday that it was “deeply troubled” by a series of allegations of sexual harassment at the University of Texas at Austin.
In a statement, State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki said the department “deepens our efforts to address harassment and discrimination against women and girls in our government” and added that the department is investigating.
“We have taken a number of steps, including a formal inquiry, to address these allegations, including the investigation into one of the individuals who made the allegations,” Psaki told reporters in Washington.
“The Department of State has also launched a formal investigation into the matter and will share its findings in the coming weeks,” she said.
“Women and girls are often the first targets of harassment and are often targets of assault and intimidation.”
The statement said that it “strongly condemns” the sexual harassment, assault and harassment that has taken place on the internet, adding that it would “conduct a comprehensive review of the university’s response to this issue”.
“The United States is committed to eliminating all forms of gender-based violence and discrimination, including online,” Psakis said.
The statement continued: “We stand ready to assist any institution of higher education that seeks to implement and enforce policies that are based on equal opportunity and harassment and assault prevention and response, as required by the Federal Student Aid Act.”
The announcement comes after two female students said that they were sexually harassed and assaulted at the US University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign last year.
The University of Virginia student, who is a graduate student, and a female student from Illinois were each charged with assault and conspiracy in December.
They are scheduled to appear in court next week.
The two women, who have not been named publicly, allege that two men approached them in a bar and asked them for dates, and that they repeatedly denied having sexual relations with them.
They also allege that they received death threats.
In addition to the two students charged, three others have been charged in the case: a female graduate student from the University at Buffalo who has been suspended and a graduate assistant who has resigned.
In response to the allegations, the university said in a statement that it has hired a special counsel to investigate the matter.”UC is committed as a public institution to combating sexual violence, and all of our students are protected under federal law and state law, including Title IX, the federal Fair Housing Act, and the federal hate crime statute,” the statement read.
“In the wake of these allegations and the university-wide investigation, we have also initiated a special review of all of the information we received from the students.UC has taken measures to ensure the safety and well-being of all students on campus and we will continue to take those steps to ensure our students’ safety and wellbeing.”
A spokesman for the university, Michael Brown, told Reuters news agency that the university had been “working closely with law enforcement and our community” to ensure safety and the safety of the students and staff.
He added that university officials were “looking into all of these accusations as part of the investigation”.
“We will fully cooperate with the special counsel and our legal team, and will also continue to investigate these allegations,” he said.US President Donald Trump on Thursday launched a scathing attack on the US state department for its handling of the case, calling it “an embarrassment” to the US and adding that the investigation was “a disgrace”.
“In an era when the US government has a special responsibility to protect its citizens from violent criminals, and to ensure that its institutions are free from the pernicious influence of foreign governments, the failure of the State Department to do its job was shameful,” Trump said in the tweet.
“Now, with all of this focus on the Democrats and the DNC, it is hard to believe that the victims of these terrible crimes will ever receive justice.”
“It is time for the State Dept to start doing its job and investigate and prosecute the criminals responsible,” he added.
The US State Dept is an incredibly powerful institution, but its leadership has not been effective at investigating and punishing these criminals.
They are allowed to roam free.
– Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 16, 2021″I have been very disappointed in the state of our government for years.
The Department of Justice has been a disaster from the very beginning, and now they are being investigated by a special prosecutor,” Trump wrote.”
As president I will always have an open mind to the idea of prosecuting those responsible.
But the Democrats, who control Congress and are controlled by the Democrats have to go!”