Texas A&M under scrutiny for lenient sexual assault policy

Texas A&M is now facing harsh criticism about how administrators are handling sexual abuse cases. 
More than 1,300 people have signed an online petition demanding the university change its lenient policies and ban sexual abusers from returning to campus. 

Hanna Shaw is a senior at Texas A&M. Shaw said in September 2015, she was raped by a student on the swim team.

"I knew how wrong it was but I was hoping that I'd be able to forget it. And it's not something you can forget," Shaw said.

Shaw is still visibly shaken as she recounts what she says happened at his dorm nearly three years ago.

"I told him no and I struggled. And I just remember, the clearest part of it is the feeling of how terrified I was," Shaw said.

For months after that night, Shaw said she was too ashamed to admit what happened and never reported the incident to police. No criminal charges were ever filed.

Shaw eventually filed a complaint with federal Title IX investigators, who looked into her claim; that prompted the university to suspend her alleged attacker for one semester and put him on probation for another. 

But now, he's back on campus. Shaw said she was never told he was returning.

Alumna Abbie Hillis said Shaw's story motivated her to start a Facebook group for other Aggies to share their stories.

"A lot of women don't ever do anything and that's like the norm," Hillis said.

Hillis said she herself was a victim of sexual abuse by another student.

"Overnight, it's grown to over 200 people and there are just women outpouring with their stories and they've all had similar cases and and mishaps with Texas A&M's reporting system and counseling services system," Hillis said.

Texas A&M responded with a statement saying in part, "Texas A&M investigates every claim of sexual misconduct. When violations are confirmed, sanctions are imposed in all cases. A conduct review panel comprised of staff members determines sanctions on a case-by-case basis in consultation with all parties. All persons involved have the right to appeal."

Now, more than 1,300 signatures are being collected on an online petition, and dozens of other victims are speaking out publicly, urging Texas A&M to adopt stricter policies in their handling of sexual misconduct. 

Texas A&M adds that due to federal privacy laws, they do not discuss individual cases. However, they do want to encourage anyone who's been a victim of sexual assault to come forward and report those cases to local police, and seek medical attention.