|Regents reopen investigation into sex assault case|
|Written by Admin|
|Tuesday, 22 July 2008 11:43|
The board met on Tuesday to talk about letters sent by the mother of the woman who claims she was raped on Oct. 14, at a campus dorm. The letters were sent to University of Iowa President Sally Mason but were not disclosed to the regents until last week.
In the letters, the mother accuses the university of mishandling its response to her daughter's allegations. She said officials encouraged her daughter, an Iowa athlete herself, to pursue resolution ``informally'' and within the athletic department. She said the family was told that it would be faster than the ``arduous'' process of involving police.
Board President David Miles said Tuesday that he was ``dumbfounded'' the letters weren't made available, and called it ``a serious breach of trust.''
``This board owes Iowans a full accounting. And they will get it,'' he said.
The board appointed Regent Bonnie Campbell, a former state attorney general, to oversee the investigation.
During Tuesday's meeting, Mason expressed her ``profound and sincere regret'' for not turning over the letters to the regents. She said she believed that releasing them would violate federal privacy laws.
``I apologize for this error and for not making certain that the board had access to all information relevant to this case,'' she said.
Last month, the board of regents said its investigation had showed the university appropriately handled the allegations. But, that was before it had the letters, and Miles said all information in the case must be included as part of any inquiry.
Mason said she welcomes the regents to do whatever they need to look into the handling of the case. The university also planned to hire outside experts to examine the handling of the case once the regent's inquiry is completed, she said.
``You will have the full cooperation of the U of I faculty, staff and administration,'' she told the regents.
Abe Satterfield and Cedric Everson, who have left the football team, are accused of sexually assaulting the woman on Oct. 14 at a campus dorm. Everson has been charged with second-degree sexual assault and Satterfield has been charged with second- and third-degree sexual assault. Both have pleaded not guilty.
The mother said in the letters that her daughter met with athletic department officials including athletic director Gary Barta, associate athletic director Fred Mims, football coach Kirk Ferentz and Betsy Altmaier, a university faculty member who serves as liaison to the Big Ten and NCAA. The athlete also met with her own coach.
``I believe that the university did not handle this situation in a professional way that followed university protocol and compliance to its own rules set out in the code of student conduct,'' the mother said in the November letter provided to the Iowa City Press-Citzen.
The university released a statement saying it had compassion for the alleged victim and her family. But it also said: ``At all times, she and her family had the ability to determine whether to pursue this matter within the university or outside of it, and we repeatedly informed them of those options.''
The university said it ``fully supported'' the student's decision to file a criminal report.
On the Net:
Iowa State Board of Regents: http://www2.state.ia.us/regents/