Under Title IX, a federal law that bars sex discrimination, higher education institutions have an obligation to swiftly respond to complaints of sexual assault.
After the story was published, USU spokesman Tim Vitale released a statement saying officials would do a "thorough examination of the events reported" as part of an "ongoing comprehensive review" of how the school handles sexual assault cases.
Vitale said this week that the review has begun, and will look at communication between offices that deal with sexual assault, how the school handles anonymous or confidential sexual assault reports and mandatory reporter training.
"The inquiry will be led by our in-house legal counsel," Vitale told The Tribune. "We're trying to address this as quickly as we can, and any recommendations will be shared widely with our constituents."
He did not answer questions about the scope of the inquiry or who would review the findings or act on any recommendations that come out of it.
S. Daniel Carter, board president of SurvJustice, a nonprofit that provides legal assistance to survivors of sexual violence, said the school's investigation sounds like a good first step.
But Title IX and the Clery Act — a campus-safety law — are specialized and might not be part of every lawyer's expertise, especially as the requirements have tightened in past years, he said.
Vitale said Friday he could not reach USU's general counsel, Mica McKinney, to determine whether she has had Title IX training, but said she has been "a driving force" in past changes to the school's sexual assault policies.
Carter noted that "There is a conflict of interest, that the in-house counsel has to protect the institution."
One way to protect an institution from future liability is to identify and correct deficiencies, he said, but that would not "address potential past errors, which they may, understandably, be reluctant to identify," he said.
"There were still a lot of unanswered questions about what happened, and how it was allowed to happen," he said.
The three female students — Catherine, Mary and Anna — all went to the Sexual Assault and Anti-Violence Information office (SAAVI), which provides confidential counseling, before going to police.
Jenny Erazo, SAAVI coordinator, told The Tribune she would tell the university if she received multiple allegations against the same perpetrator, but would not say if that's what she did in this instance.
Catherine didn't report to the Title IX office, but informed her dormitory complex's resident assistant — who is required to report to Title IX — and the dorm's supervisor.