Photo by Karen Bleier/AFP/Getty Images.
The Justice Department opened a broad probe this week into whether local police and school officials at the University of Montana at Missoula properly handled a spate of sexual assault reports over the past three years.
Federal authorities announced Tuesday that they will investigate Montana police and prosecutors, as well as school officials, after complaints that the allegations were not taken seriously because of gender bias.
CNN reports that the alleged incidents include allegations of gang rape and date rape drugs, and the Wall Street Journal notes that at least six of the school's football players are among those accused of crimes.
"Our focus is on systemic issues; that is, do the university and the law enforcement agencies have the necessary policies and practices in place to protect women in a comprehensive and integrated manner," said Assistant Attorney General Thomas Perez of the Justice Department.
As msnbc.com points out, the investigation into the university’s compliance with laws against sex discrimination comes during an election year that has brought women’s issues to the forefront.