Investigation finds abuse, misconduct within USU’s Piano Program

Local News

LOGAN, Utah (News4Utah) Utah State University is responding to reports of sexual assault and harassment in its prestigious piano program.

The university announced the results of an investigation and explains what they’re doing to make sure it never happens again.

Utah State Administration says they’re already taking the necessary action to prevent further abuse but did admit the university failed to respond to decades of improper conduct.

University records, emails and dozens of interviews dug deep into allegations that first came to light on social media in February. Among the first accusers: Whitney Griffith.

“It happened in the first semester I was in the program at Utah State, so it really hurt my academic career,” said Griffith.

Griffith was a student at Utah State in 2009 when she says she was assaulted. She says the rape and lack of response from the university forced her to drop out a year later. She rebuilt her life in California.

“I ended up leaving and it was really heartbreaking,” said Griffith.

In the piano program, an independent investigation found sexual assault, harassment and discrimination was commonplace to women and some men from 1994 to last year.

“I just have to thank those people and it took incredible strength to bring these things forward,” said USU President Noelle Cockett.

President Cockett announced a new discrimination task force and is reorganizing the school’s Title IX office. She’s also working to remove remaining faculty members named in the investigation.

She expects more victims to come forward.

“You can’t deny how many students have spoken up about it, I knew that something would change. But I didn’t realize how big it would be but I’m really happy about that,” said Griffith.

President Cockett says the task force will be in full force come this fall. She will also begin hiring staff for the new Title IX Office this fall.

The university is providing counseling to students and is encouraging them to come forward. They’re also looking into install windows and cameras in the music department.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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