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Herring appoints new counsel to advise Board of Visitors on issues of sexual violence

Law firm O’Melveny & Myers will examine University policy after removal of Mark Filip

Law firm O’Melveny & Myers will serve as the new independent counsel to the Board of Visitors on issues of sexual violence at the University, the office of Attorney General Mark Herring informed University Rector George Martin in a letter Tuesday morning.

The attorney general’s office had previously announced that the independent counsel would be attorney Mark Filip. That decision was reversed last Friday because Filip was a member of Phi Kappa Psi fraternity. A Rolling Stone article released two weeks ago detailed an alleged gang rape which took place at the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity house in Sept. 2012.

“This situation is too serious to allow anything to undermine the confidence in the objectiveness and independence of this review,” Herring said in a press release.

In a statement regarding the appointment of O’Melveny & Myers, Herring said the investigation will not only look at how the University addresses and adjudicates sexual assault, but also will examine how the school handled the specific case detailed in Rolling Stone.

“Charlottesville Police have been asked to handle any criminal investigations into this specific attack, but all other aspects of campus sexual violence, including how school officials handled this case, will be thoroughly and independently scrutinized,” Herring said. “I have made it clear this will be an aggressive and consequential investigation and review.”

According to the letter, sent to Martin by Chief Deputy Attorney General Cynthia Hudson, the team of attorneys from O’Melveny & Myers will include Walter Dellinger, Danielle Gray and Apalla Chopra.

Dellinger is a former U.S. Assistant Attorney General, serving as head of the Office of Legal Counsel from 1993 to 1996. He was also acting Solicitor General from 1996-97, arguing nine cases before the Supreme Court.

Gray previously served as Cabinet Secretary in the White House, where she also served as a member of the White House Council on Women and Girls and the White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault.

Chopra has previously worked on Title IX and Clery Act compliance, and has represented schools before the Department of Education and the Office of Civil Rights, the organization currently reviewing the University's Title IX compliance.

In addition to examining policies and procedures for preventing sexual violence and handling reports, the team is charged with examining larger systemic factors which may facilitate sexual violence on Grounds.

“The team will assist the Board in determining what cultural and institutional changes must be made within the University community to make it clear that sexual violence will never be tolerated,” Hudson said in the letter.