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Sexual assault reported on campus

March 1st, 2012

An instance of sexual battery was reported in the John Carroll University Campus Safety Services crime log on Feb. 5.

Associate Dean of Students Donna Byrnes said “sexual battery” is more of a police term. The University classifies it as “sexual assault,” and it encompasses any action that violates JCU’s Sex Offense Policy under the University’s Community Standards.

The Sex Offense Policy covers sexual assault, non-consensual contact, sexual exploitation, sexual harassment, stalking and incapacitation, and defines each offense for students.

Byrnes said, “In this case, it involved sexual assault and sexual exploitation.”

According to Byrnes, the sexual assault, which took place in Bernet Hall, involved two students.

She could not go into further detail regarding the exact circumstances of the incident or release names to protect the second student.

The alleged perpetrator is no longer a student at JCU.

According to the Sex Offense Policy, “Any student found responsible for a violation of the Sex Offense Policy will be subject to disciplinary action up to, and including, expulsion.”

Byrnes said the second student filed a report with the University Heights Police Department and the University within 24 hours of the incident.

“Reporting early definitely helps. You’re less likely to forget things,” said Byrnes.

The alleged perpetrator went through JCU’s disciplinary process. The University Hearing Board was convened to hear the case. The UHB is separate from the Student Union Hearing Board, which operates under the Student Union.

“The University Hearing Board is convened anytime an alleged conduct violation, if a student is found guilty, could result in expulsion or suspension,” Byrnes said.

Byrnes, who chairs the board, has a pool of faculty, administrators and students she emails when a case comes up and chooses people according to their availability. Byrnes chooses the board such that faculty, administrators and students are represented.

In this case, the board was comprised of one student, two faculty members, two administrators and Byrnes.

The UBH hears both sides, asks questions and then hears closing statements.

“When the board has a mental picture of what happened and has no more questions, it has closed deliberations,” said Byrnes.

The board considers what was heard and reviews past conduct violations of the charged student. Byrnes could not disclose whether the student did have past conduct violations.

The board then makes a recommendation to the dean of students, Sherri Crahen.

In this case, it was decided the student should be expelled. The expelled student does have the opportunity to appeal the decision, but no such action has been made thus far in this case.

In the case of expulsion, students’ relationships with the University are severed. They may not re-enroll at JCU.

Byrnes said a focus of the University is supporting the victim. The University’s Violence Prevention and Action Center provides various services for students in response to sexual violence, relationship violence and stalking. VPAC has a 24/7 hotline for students to call for help or advice, and also helps students through the criminal justice system and student conduct system, if they choose to file a report.

In this case, the student did use the center’s services.

Byrnes said since the victim decided to go through UH police as well, the case is currently moving through the Cuyahoga County court system.

“We have nothing to do with that process, except to support the [second] student as best we can,” Byrnes said.