Colleges in N.J. could be fined for failing to act after campus assaults

 Assemblyman Reed Gusciora urges support for the legislation at Assembly Higher Education Committee hearing (Phil Gregory/WHYY)

Assemblyman Reed Gusciora urges support for the legislation at Assembly Higher Education Committee hearing (Phil Gregory/WHYY)

Failing to report allegations of sexual assault on campus could be costly for New Jersey colleges.

Legislation sponsored by Assemblyman Reed Gusciora would fine higher-education institutions $10,000 for not taking appropriate action in response to a sexual assault complaint.

“We need to send the college a strong message that when they hear such allegations they should immediately report them to the police so that they are properly investigated,” said Gusciora, D-Mercer.

The bill advanced by an Assembly committee could be amended to increase the penalty to $50,000.

Assemblywoman Nancy Pinkin questioned how effective — and costly — that approach might be. She said assessing such fines might increase the college tuition.

“One thing I would wonder is where’s the money going to go and is that penalizing the students who already can’t afford to go to college?” said Pinkin, D-Middlesex.

Gusciora suggested the fines could be directed to a sexual assault-prevention program.

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