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UNM Working To Speed Up Sexual Assault Investigations

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Arianna Sena / KUNM
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People who’ve reported sexual assaults to the University of New Mexico have said lengthy investigations leave them in limbo for months while anxiety interferes with their studies. But UNM is making some changes to try to speed things up.

Federal law recommends that sexual assault investigations at schools that get federal money should take about 60 days. But at UNM, they often take longer.

The Office of Equal Opportunity, which investigates sexual assaults at the university, was without a permanent director for six months this year. Francie Cordova took the post at OEO in August. She said she’s reviewing procedures to try to address the problem of prolonged investigations. "We want to standardize and streamline and make clear what the process is for both our investigators and for the public when they’re coming to us," Cordova said.

OEO has been coping with a high turnover of investigators. Now the office has four: Two of them have been there about a year, and two were just hired last month. They handle all civil rights complaints—not just sexual assaults.

Marisa Demarco began a career in radio at KUNM News in late 2013 and covered public health for much of her time at the station. During the pandemic, she is also the executive producer for Your NM Government and No More Normal, shows focused on the varied impacts of COVID-19 and community response, as well as racial and social justice. She joined Source New Mexico as editor-in-chief in 2021.
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