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Lawsuits seek changes to U. of Iowa sexual assault policies

The law firm that won a landmark gender discrimination case against the University of Iowa athletics department will challenge the school's handling of sexual assault and harassment complaints next. (MGN Online)

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) - The law firm that won a landmark gender discrimination case against the University of Iowa athletics department will challenge the school's handling of sexual assault and harassment complaints next.

Des Moines-based Newkirk Zwagerman filed two lawsuits Monday seeking changes to how the school responds when female students report assault and harassment.

The lawsuits ague that a culture of "victim blaming, implicit gender bias and gender stereotypes" hinders how cases are investigated and resolved on the Iowa City campus.

The cases highlight an issue that has put universities on the defensive nationwide over their practices, including how they balance the rights of the accuser and the accused.

They seek court orders requiring more surveys of students, analysis of investigations to monitor for bias, and training on gender-based violence.

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