HANOVER, N.H. — Federal education and Justice Department officials speaking at a Dartmouth College summit on sexual assault said Monday they’re open to the idea of new legislation to address the issue but already have effective tools at their disposal.

Representatives from more than 60 colleges and universities are attending this week’s conference at Dartmouth, one of 55 colleges and universities being investigated by the federal Education Department for how it handles sexual harassment and assault complaints. Participants on Monday heard from Catherine Lhamon, the Education Department’s assistant secretary for civil rights, and Anurima Bhargava from the Justice Department’s division of civil rights.

The Education Department and a White House task force on campus sexual assault have taken a series of steps to draw attention to the treatment of sexual assault victims and force campuses to address the problem. Meanwhile, Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., and other senators are exploring legislative ways to empower victims, simplify laws and rules colleges and universities follow and find ways that campuses and local authorities can better coordinate.

“I’m open and enthusiastic about what may be forthcoming, but where I sit today, I think we have a set of very, very effective tools,” Lhamon said, denying an audience member’s suggestion that current laws lack teeth.

Those tools include the threat of litigation and the potential loss of federal funding for not complying with Title IX, which prohibits gender discrimination, and Lhamon said four schools have come close to the latter sanction in the last 10 months.

“I don’t think it is an empty threat,” she said. “If a school is told that it is not compliant with Title IX in any respect and refuses to come into compliance, I will go to enforcement and I am prepared to withhold federal funds.”

Dartmouth, which reported 24 sexual assaults in 2012, compared with 15 in 2011, 22 in 2010 and 10 in 2009, has been working on multiple fronts to prevent sexual assault, encourage reporting and hold perpetrators accountable.

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