By Mary Spicuzza

The University of Wisconsin-Madison is now under investigation as part of a growing federal probe into the handling of sexual violence complaints.

The investigation now includes 101 universities nationally, including two in Wisconsin, the U.S. Department of Education said. UW-Whitewater was named by the department's Office for Civil Rights when it announced the investigation in May.

UW-Madison spokesman John Lucas said the university was notified recently by the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights that it had received complaints related to sexual violence, and it is working closely with the office.

"At the University of Wisconsin-Madison, the safety and welfare of our students and university community is our top priority," Lucas said in a statement. "Sexual assault is unacceptable on our campus, and we acknowledge the impact of these crimes on our students. We strive to respond promptly and appropriately to all reports of sexual assault and provide resources and support."

He added that "the university has worked diligently to ensure its policies comply with federal law and regulations."

Last year, President Barack Obama established a "White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault" in the wake of a report released by the White House Council on Women and Girls, which found that nearly one in five women, and one in 71 men, have experienced rape or attempted rape in their lifetimes.

Other universities under investigation include University of California-Berkeley, Emory University, the University of Chicago, Harvard University, Michigan State University and Ohio State University.

Federal officials have not disclosed any specific details about the cases or the institutions under investigation. Being on the list does not mean that universities have been found to have violated the law.

When department said that when an investigation concludes, it will disclose whether the Office for Civil Rights has entered into an agreement to address concerns, or found insufficient evidence of a Title IX violation there.

Federal law says that sexual violence refers to sexual acts perpetrated against a person's will -- or when a person is incapable of giving consent -- and includes rape, sexual assault, sexual battery, sexual abuse and sexual coercion.

(c)2015 the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel