An independent investigator’s report claims University of Iowa officials failed to adequately protect a student, after she claimed she was sexually assaulted by two football players. However, the report concludes that there is no evidence of a "cover up" among U-I administrators and coaches.
James Sears Bryant led a legal team from the Stolar Partnership, which was hired to investigate the University’s response. Bryant told the Iowa Board of Regents Thursday that U-I General Counsel Marc Mills acknowledged his failure to turn over documents to the board following his initial investigation of the case.
"It was clearly inappropriate not to turn (the documents) over, but I did not perceive him to be a person that was doing it for some immoral purpose," Bryant said. "That’s just a call based on interviews and character judgment. I think it was a huge mistake and I think he admits it."
The documents at issue included letters to University officials from the victim’s mother, outlining her frustration with the school’s handling of the matter. Bryant further explained why he doesn’t believe Mills was trying to hide the documents from the Regents.
"If (Mills) had wanted to cover it up, he might have argued federal law or some policy didn’t let him disclose that…he didn’t, he just said ‘I should have disclosed it. I didn’t, I should have, it was my mistake.’ I thought it was an honest answer," Bryant said.
The Stolar Partnership report is also critical of U-I Vice President for Student Services Phil Jones for failing to remove the two football players from a residence hall, where the alleged victim, a member of the U-I swim team, also lived. Bryant says Jones sent letters to student-athletes, warning them not to harass or retaliate against the alleged victim, but he did not follow-up on the matter.
Bryant says the coaches of the football and swimming teams, however, did call meetings and urged their athletes to be supportive of the alleged victim. "At least it appeared that the coaches in the athletic department tried to rally the teams to support her, but there was a lot of what I call rogue behavior going on anyway," Bryant said.
The report recommends that all Regents universities should have a separate office for investigating sexual assaults. Board of Regents President David Miles says changes are clearly needed. "We did not handle this as an institution with the sensitivity and support for the alleged victim that we ought to have," Miles said. The Regents will discuss the report at a special meeting next Thursday in West Des Moines.
"While I’m not prepared to say what actions will be taken, I’ll assure you that this board will take action," Miles told reporters after listening to Bryant’s presentation. University of Iowa President Sally Mason is expected to be at next week’s meeting and offer her response to the report. The two former U-I football players, 20-year-old Abe Satterfield and 19-year-old Cedric Everson, have pleaded not guilty to charges of sex abuse and are scheduled for trial on November 3rd.