NOTE: Although this blog entry, with its content from July 19-August 8, 2008, will remain here, any additions beyond August 8, as these stories continue, will only be available at the UI Sexual Assault Web site where the entire contents of this blog entry have been reproduced.
As you may have already discovered (and even complained) a "blog" is not really designed to accommodate within a single entry an ongoing story, over many days, with large quantities of text -- and links to more (believed to be the most complete collection of material relevant to these stories available anywhere on the Internet). And yet, based on the hundreds of hits it receives each day, clearly it is serving a purpose. Thus, the transfer of the site from a "blog entry" to a "Web page."
Besides, there are too many more subjects that cry out for comment to hold this blog static, focused on the UI sexual assault stories.
-- N.J., August 9, 2008
So here is this blog entry as it stood on August 8, 2008:
July 19, 2008, 11:00 a.m., 12:55, 3:55 p.m. (addition of text of mother's letter), 5:50 p.m. (first crime by Hawkeye football player in the new fall season); July 21, 2008, 1:30 p.m., 7:30 p.m. (Regents to meet soon over letter/s), 8:20 p.m. (Press-Citizen's 26 questions); July 22, 2008, 7:00 a.m. (Tim Dwight's comments, Regents' President Miles "two questions," other updates), 9:00 a.m. (link to full text of Tom Evans report to Regents last month), 12:15 p.m. (Regents' agenda item), 1:40 p.m. ("My Take" on all this), 4:25 p.m. (Mason apologizes), 9:25 p.m. (Barta's statement);
July 23, 2008, 8:15 a.m. (papers' wrap up stories; my conclusions); July 24, 2008, 12:35 p.m. (Ferentz breaks silence, answers nothing; mother's second letter revealed; advisory committee's process unclear; trial date -- coincidence?; events bring State29 briefly out of retirement), 2:15, 6:45 p.m. (additions to "July 24" section, below); July 25, 2008, 7:45 a.m. (President Mason's involvement in Purdue controversy; P-C has more questions), 8:45 a.m. (more from Ferentz), 9:30 a.m., 12:20 p.m., (President Mason and Coach Ferentz veer from "That's my story and I'm sticking to it" and begin revelation of details), 4:10 p.m. (Mason didn't read UI's reports; Parrish says UI denied his client a lawyer);
July 26, 2008, 7:30 a.m. (how to prevent a train wreck); July 27, 2008, 8:25, 9:15, 10:00 a.m. (Pierre Pierce revisited, Tom Evans' Report, Regents' search, Gazette continues praise of football players & UI President); July 29, 2008, 7:30, 8:50 a.m. (Regents pick Stolar firm as investigators; inherent conflict for Regents; mother says first investigator never contacted them; accused's lawyer going after alleged victim; UI's lax alcohol control produces another top party school ranking);
July 30, 6:00 a.m., 5:30 p.m. (Skolar reviewing Regents' investigation; legislature may get involved; Ohio State 24, Iowa 1; pay for Skolar firm; scope of investigation; judge says UI can give Regents subpoenaed documents); July 31, 5:30 a.m., 3:30 p.m. (UI to pay Skolar; UI's alcohol tolerance increases crimes; Parrish wants room photos; players ask "why is this happening?")
August 1, 2008, 5:20 a.m. (Iowa Legislature enters case; Gazette questions need for outside counsel); August 2, 2008, 7:20 a.m. (hearing on UI documents; who pays Skolar?); August 3, 2008, 8:45 a.m. (the high price of over-emphasis on sports goes well beyond the criminal court system); August 4, 2008, 7:25 a.m. (Iowa as "Party State," constructive suggestions), 6:00 p.m. (Parrish wants bill of particulars; Ferentz wants to change subject)
August 5, 2008, 7:30, 8:20 a.m., 3:00 p.m. (Ferentz didn't consider dorm room "crime scene," three Iowa coaches say Satterfield "not guilty"); August 7, 2008, 7:10 a.m. (what's Regents' "governance model"?; put President Mason evaluation on hold awaiting second investigation; how military handles rape issues); August 8, 2008, 9:20 a.m. (judge orders documents index; UI president review on hold; former Johnson County Attorney's view)
August 8, 2008
Most significant development: Judge orders UI and JC Attorney prepare indexes of withheld documents for Press-Citizen. Lee Hermiston, "Judge says to deliver indexes; County office, UI have month to furnish assault-related lists," Iowa City Press-Citizen, August 8, 2008, p. A3.
Former City Council member Bob Elliott discusses differences between his perspective, and that of former Johnson County District Attorney Pat White, regarding "Story Two" (UI administrators' reactions to events of October 14, 2007). Bob Elliott, "Another View of Response," Iowa City Press-Citizen, August 8, 2008, p. A13.
As reported here yesterday, the Regents approved raises for the Iowa State and UNI presidents but are holding back their review of UI President Sally Mason's performance until they receive the report of the second investigation (due September 18). Erin Jordan, "ISU, UNI presidents get bonuses from regents," Des Moines Register, August 8, 2008; Diane Heldt, "Pay raised 6 percent for UNI, ISU presidents," The Gazette, August 8, 2008, p. A1, for earlier online version see, Diane Heldt, "Iowa State, Northern Iowa presidents to get raises," The Gazette Online, August 7, 2008, updated 7:55 p.m.
August 7, 2008
I'm not prepared to make a judgmental declaration as to what the Regents and UI administration "should" have done. But I am willing to suggest that much if not all of what's involved in "Story One" (events of last October 14), "Story Two" (what UI administrators did thereafter) and "Story Three" (the Regents' response and first, and now second, investigation of Stories One and Two) could have been prevented, and would have been avoided -- up to and including the current, postponed evaluation of UI President Sally Mason -- had more attention been given to the formulation (and application) of a workable "governance model."
I have written about the subject of board governance (board-CEO relationship) in general, Nicholas Johnson, "Board Governance: Theory and Practice," and with regard to the Iowa Board of Regents in particular, Nicholas Johnson, "An Open Letter to Regents on 'Governance,'" April 17, 2007 (with links to additional material of relevance to Regents' governance).
What occurred last academic year, from October 14 until today, is an almost textbook classic case study of what happens when these principles are not followed. As sad as Stories One, Two and Three may be, the saddest realization is that they all could have been prevented.
Erin Jordan, "Regents put job review for U of I president on hold," Des Moines Register, August 7, 2008 ("The Iowa Board of Regents will delay its job review of University of Iowa President Sally Mason until the completion of an investigation of how the U of I handled an alleged sexual assault involving athletes.").
Brian Morelli, "Regents waiting to decide Mason's raise; Want alleged assault inquiry finished first," Iowa City Press-Citizen, August 7, 2008, p. A1 ("The Iowa state Board of Regents plans to get to the bottom of the University of Iowa's handling of an alleged sexual assault on campus last year before deciding on this year's raise for UI President Sally Mason. . . .Mason earned $560,000 -- $450,000 in base pay and $110,000 in incentives -- last year, her first at UI. Regents said at the time of her hire that her incentive package would kick in automatically the first year but that it would be determined by her ability to meet expectations in future years.").
While it should offer us no comfort, a couple of the Register's recent editorials deal with the difficulties that institutions beyond collegiate football programs have in responding to sexual assaults -- in this case, the military. Editorial, "Military not taking sex assaults seriously," Des Moines Register, August 6, 2008 ("'Women serving in the U.S. military today are more likely to be raped by a fellow soldier than killed by enemy fire in Iraq.' That troubling statement was included in the testimony of Rep. Jane Harman of California during a congressional hearing last week on sexual assault in the military."), and Editorial, "Hearing No-Show is Telling," Des Moines Register, August 6, 2008.
August 5, 2008
I've repeatedly drawn a distinction between "story one" (what happened the early morning of October 14 -- now a criminal prosecution) and "story two" (what UI administrators did thereafter). The issues, and fact finding, overlap with regard to the preservation of a potential crime scene.
Clearly, the consequence of Coach Ferentz ordering a football player to move back into the player's "vacated" dorm room (and scene of the alleged crime) was the destruction of evidence. But it's an enormous leap from that consequence to a conclusion that it was the Coach's intention and motive to destroy evidence. One can argue -- and I'm sure many will -- that every collegiate coach should be provided training in the preservation of crime scenes, that they should have a checklist (or university policy) for dealing with potential crime scenes, or that common sense (or at least the lessons learned from watching crime shows on TV) should alert anyone to the need to preserve evidence.
On the other hand, he had other things on his mind at the time, conducted his own investigation, immediately took the action he was authorized to take by dropping two players from the team, and could fairly say with regard to criminal investigations "that's not my department."
"Should" he have done more anyway? Do we have a right to expect that of him? I'll leave those judgments to others.
Whatever the reasons, and whoever may bear primary responsibility, clearly the alleged victim's legal rights have been very seriously set back by what was -- and was not -- done by UI administrators.
Here's today's addition to the story:
"According to search warrant documents, [Derrell] Johnson-Koulianos told police he later moved into the previously vacated dorm room [where the alleged sexual assault reportedly took place] and threw out a used condom he found behind a bed and a mattress cover with an 'orangish-reddish color' substance on it. UI police later said preserving the evidence in the room was an issue in the investigation. . . .
"Ferentz has said he was notified of the alleged sexual assault the morning of Oct. 15 [and] . . . launched his own investigation. While gathering information, Ferentz learned Hillcrest N207 was vacated earlier by Iowa defensive back Lance Tillison and ordered the freshman to move back into the room because he did not have permission to move out of the dorm. Ferentz said he did not consider the consequences that could have on an investigation of any alleged crime scene."
Andy Hamilton, "Ferentz Didn't Ask About Hawk's Actions," Iowa City Press-Citizen, August 5, 2008.
Scott Dochterman, "New coach stands behind ex-Hawkeye football player," The Gazette Online, August 5, 2008, 9:37 a.m. (Indiana (Pa.) Coach Lou Tepper told the Erie (Pa.) Times-News on Monday he has no reservations about keeping former Iowa cornerback Abe Satterfield on his roster. . . .. Tepper told the newspaper, . . . 'I spoke to three coaches at Iowa. What they told me was the case was going to be dropped. That they did not feel as if he was guilty.' . . . [Cedric] Everson is a member of the Alcorn State (Miss.) football team. In a May interview with The Gazette, Alcorn State Athletics Director Darren Hamilton stood behind Everson . . .."); available in hard copy edition as Scott Dochterman, "Tepper: No issues with Satterfield," The Gazette, August 6, 2008, p. C1. Scott Dochterman, "Hawk living arrangements discussed," The Gazette Online, August 4, 2008, 11:32 p.m.
And see, Ben Fornell, "Football player's lawyer wants details on charge," Des Moines Register, August 5, 2008 ("[D]efense attorney Alfredo Parrish asked prosecutors to specify details of the second-degree sexual abuse charge against Abe Satterfield"), and Sean Keeler, "Weight of expectations falls squarely on shoulders of O-line," Des Moines Register, August 5, 2008 ("About the only thing the Hawkeyes have done consistently over the last 18-20 months is run afoul of the law. That's not going in the media guide. . . .
With a bowl-less winter, a two-year record of 12-13, a sexual assault investigation involving two former Hawkeyes in the headlines, and the bitter aftertaste of watching Western Michigan dominate at Kinnick Stadium still on the tongue of many fans, Ferentz opens his 10th season under more scrutiny than he's ever faced before. . . .
[W]hen folks think Iowa football, they might start thinking of something else: A change at the top.").
Lee Hermiston, "Investigator: Regents probe going smoothly," Iowa City Press-Citizen online, August 5, 2008, 12:15 p.m.
August 4, 2008
UI as Top Rated "Party School"? Hell, we're a party state!
[F]or the 12 months ending June 30, Iowans . . . Liquor sales grew by 6.4 percent, . . . Beer sales . . . rose by 1.8 percent, while wine sales increased by 3 percent. . . .William Petroski, "Iowans' tippling boosts state coffers," Des Moines Register, August 4, 2008.
The average adult Iowan consumed 37.23 gallons of beer, 1.98 gallons of liquor, and 1.69 gallons of wine over the 12-month period.
I've never quite understood how and when alcohol became a synonym for "party." It is, after all, the nation's number one hard drug by any measure -- seriousness of medical consequences, the proportion of all crimes with which it is associated (give or take 50%), the multi-billion-dollar economic losses, the millions of addicts ("alcoholics") and the multiples of that number they impact (e.g., family members and co-workers), the sexual assaults, drunk driving, vomiting and falling down drunk, college students' lower grades and increase in drop-outs, deaths from suicide, homicide and accidents, and so forth. Doesn't sound like a "party" to me.
But there it is. It shouldn't be a surprise that a "party state" has "party schools" -- and the predictable consequences one would expect. And now we have one more arrest involving a UI athlete. Dan McCool, "Iowa Wrestling: Hawkeye arrested after confrontation," Des Moines Register, August 4, 2008.
And Lee Hermiston reports, "Parrish wants sex abuse charge specified," Iowa City Press-Citizen online, August 4, 2008, 4:19 p.m. ("In a motion filed Monday, Des Moines defense attorney Alfredo Parrish, who is representing Abeberell Satterfield, requested that a bill of particulars be produced related to his client’s charge of second-degree sexual abuse aiding and abetting."). And what does Coach Ferentz want? He just wants to change the subject, "Ferentz Optimistic About 2008," Iowa City Press-Citizen, August 4, 2008.
For a well balanced bit of constructive questioning, criticism, and suggestions for improvement see Constance Berman, "Need for improvement all around," Iowa City Press-Citizen, August 2, 2008 ("[A] mishandling on many fronts. . . . In the 20 years I've been at Iowa, I've had colleagues who felt pressured by the athletic department because an athlete earning failing grades was indeed failing. . . . I'm appalled to be teaching at an institution that cannot have Friday classes because 'happy hour' starts on Thursday. I'm deeply ashamed of a city run by barkeepers who condone underage entry to bars (effectively underage drinking). And I am deeply ashamed to be teaching at an institution that is right up there at the top as a 'Party School' . . ..").
August 3, 2008
This ever-expanding blog entry is focused on one example of the pressures, challenges and conflicts confronting the administrators (and overseers) of America's institutions of higher education when confronted with the abuses created by (or at least accompanying) multi-million-dollar athletic programs.
But the consequences of that emphasis go well beyond the sometimes criminal behavior that can grow out of adults' years-long contributing to young athletes' sense of entitlement (from the time they are in junior high school) -- with the accompanying exploitation of those athletes, who often leave college with neither a good education nor prospects of a professional sports career.
The over-emphasis on the major college sports (primarily football and basketball) infects the entire educational establishment, which along with educators' seeming unwillingness to do anything meaningful about the accompanying alcohol and drug abuse, is having an impact on America's ability to compete in the global economy, as David Brooks recently pointed out in such clear and dramatic detail. David Brooks, "The Biggest Issue," New York Times, July 29, 2008 ("Between 1975 and 1990, educational attainments stagnated completely. . . . America’s lead over its economic rivals has been entirely forfeited, with many nations surging ahead in school attainment. . . . America rose because it got more out of its own people than other nations. That stopped in 1970. Now, other issues grab headlines and campaign attention. But this tectonic plate is still relentlessly and menacingly shifting beneath our feet.").
It's just one more case of "we have found the enemy and it is us." It is we, the adults, who shout insults at the umpires of Little League games, encourage our children in high school sports in hopes of saving a little on college costs with sports scholarships, provide the fan base for college teams, elect the representatives who tolerate and encourage making a football coach the highest paid public employee in the state, protect our athletes from the consequences of their behavior and find high-priced defense lawyers for them when our cover-ups fail, and give a wink and a nod to wide-spread binge drinking.
And that's why this observation of a local business person caught my eye. She's pretty much summed it up.
"Every school system, whether it's in Des Moines or whether it's in Mumbai ... is a reflection of the values of the communities that it serves .... It's very clear that we've gone with sports, and an enormous amount of energy is put into that, although your average employer isn't looking for someone highly skilled in football."
-- Rowena Crosbie of Tero International, speaking at Des Moines Register panel of business leaders on our educational institutions preparation of Iowans for a global economy
Editorial, "Better Prepare Students for World Economy," Des Moines Register, August 3, 2008. And see, "World-Class Schools: Transcript of Discussion," Des Moines Register, August 3, 2008, and especially the confirming, Linda Lantor Fandel, "Core Issue: Do We Value Education?" Des Moines Register, August 3, 2008 (interview with Bob Compton, executive producer of documentary, "Two Million Minutes: A Global Examination;" sample: "What the film shows is that we have a cultural issue . . . larger than . . . the schools. India and China revere, recognize and reward academic achievement. U.S. culture reveres, recognizes and rewards athletic achievement. . . . Until . . . the adults in this country decide intellectual achievement is as important as athletic achievement, when parents turn out for football games but not math competitions, . . . schools will not change. The core issue is our value system . . .. The solution has to happen in each community [as we] raise awareness and appreciation of our academic and intellectual stars the way we do with our athletic stars. Twenty percent of our population is going to do OK. But 80 percent is not. It's such a waste of human potential.").
And if that "waste of human potential" is not enough to move us to change for humanitarian reasons, hopefully our greed and selfishness will provide the incentive as we begin to see the link between the teams we cheer for Saturday afternoon and the job we don't have on Monday, the mortgage we can't pay, the overseas trip we can't take with dollars worth a fraction of what they once were, and the $40 trillion in unfunded government obligations we're leaving our grandchildren instead of a modest inheritance.
August 2, 2008
"You can't tell the players without a program" used to be the shout-out of those selling programs at baseball games. So it is with this "case." First off, it's useful to recognize the distinctions between what I call "story one" (what happened October 14, 2007), "story two" (what UI administrators did about it), and now "story three" (what the Regents did about what the UI's administrators did). But then each of those stories has its sub-stories. Story one is now being played out in the beginning motions of a criminal trial currently set for November 3. Yesterday there was a hearing involving what documents will, and will not, be available to public and media.
"The hour-long hearing came after a several-month-long tug-of-war between the University of Iowa, the Johnson County Attorney's Office and the Iowa City Press-Citizen over documents related to the alleged Oct. 14, 2007, sexual assault at Hillcrest Residence Hall involving UI football players.
"Turner heard arguments from attorneys representing the three parties concerning two cases. First, the Press-Citizen's open records lawsuit against the UI; and second, the newspaper's request that subpoenas and documents related to the investigation be unsealed."
Lee Hermiston, "All sides heard for UI documents; Judge says he will come to decision as soon as possible," Iowa City Press-Citizen, August 2, 2008.
Writing a week ago, "Now What? -- July 23, 2008," below, I noted, "So, the Regents' investigator didn't have access to the letter. So shame on the UI administrators for not turning it over. But how, if even half of what it contained is true, would none of that come out in a thorough investigation -- even without access to the letter? Were penetrating questions not asked? Were they asked, but not fully and truthfully responded to? Whatever the reasons, the Regents aren't looking all that good this morning either."
The Press-Citizen editorializes this morning about the significance of that observation to the question of who should pay for the Skolar investigation. The answer involves the distinction between "story two" and "story three." Any identifiable, incremental costs associated with the Regents' first investigation could rationally be said to have been occasioned as a result of actions attributable to UI administrators. But the $250,000 cost of the Skolar investigation -- as to which Regents' "advisory committee" chair Bonnie Campbell says "The taxpayers should not have to foot the bill for this -- period" -- are costs occasioned not by UI administrators' failures but by failures of the Regents' first investigation.
Read the editorial: Editorial, "Regents passing the ($250,000) buck to UI," Iowa City Press-Citizen, August 2, 2008.
And for a quick overview of the whole mess: Olivia Moran, Chris Patton, and Lauren Skiba, "Semester in review: River, questions about UI assault case rise/After a hectic summer, regents reopen probe into UI's role in sex assault," The Daily Iowan, August 1, 2008 (brief summary of May-July 2008 events in case).
August 1, 2008
"[Iowa] Sen. Thomas Courtney, D-Burlington, and Rep. Vicki Lensing, D-Iowa City [respective chairs of the Iowa Senate and House Government Oversight Committees], urged [Iowa Board of Regents President David] Miles to contact them 'if at any time you believe you are not receiving the full cooperation of the University of Iowa employees and others' so the committee could use its power to subpoena witnesses to testify before the committee. . . .
Courtney and Lensing also asked Miles to appear before the panel Sept. 19, the day after the regents receive a report from a St. Louis law firm handling the U of I probe." Erin Jordan, "Subpoenas offered for probe at U of I," Des Moines Register, August 1, 2008; Rob Daniel, "Legislators offer help on investigation; Committee says it will use its subpoena power," Iowa City Press-Citizen, August 1, 2008; Diane Heldt, "Legislators Join in on UI Sex Assault Case," The Gazette, August 1, 2008, p. B3, earlier online version available as Diane Heldt, "Legislators want regents meeting on UI sexual assault investigation," The Gazette Online, July 31, 2008, updated 6:04 p.m. (includes text of letters exchanged between Government Oversight Committees and Regents); Rachel Goodell and Olivia Moran, "State lawmakers offer support to regents' investigation," The Daily Iowan, August 1, 2008.
The Gazette editorializes, "[W]e wonder if outside counsel is necessary. Wouldn’t the Attorney General’s Office, as the legal representative of state government, be the appropriate public agency for this important task?" Editorial, "No Other Option?" The Gazette, August 1, 2008, p. A4.
Lee Hermiston, "Lawyer wants to see room; Parrish files motion to photograph alleged site of sexual assault," Iowa City Press-Citizen, August 1, 2008 (the hard copy version of the online story linked from this blog yesterday, below).
July 31, 2008
Lead stories this morning follow up on yesterday's reports in this blog about terms of Skolar contract and hourly rates. Chair Campbell says UI, not taxpayers or tuition, to cover costs.
Erin Jordan, "U of I to Bear All Cost of Probe," Des Moines Register, July 31, 2008.
Diane Heldt, "Tax dollars won’t fund UI inquiry; Lawyers hired by board to investigate handling of rape allegations to be paid $150 to $375 an hour," The Gazette, July 31, 2008, p. A1 ("Regent Bonnie Campbell, of Des Moines, asked Regents Executive Director Robert Donley on Wednesday to inform UI officials that the university will be expected to reimburse the regents’ office for the cost of the investigation without using taxpayer or tuition dollars."); available as Diane Heldt, "Should taxpayers have to fund UI investigation?" The Gazette Online, July 30, 2008, updated 10:04 p.m.
Rob Daniel, "Firm to be paid $375 an hour; Office releases contract between regents, Stolar," Iowa City Press-Citizen, July 31, 2008.
Meanwhile, the Register's Marc Hansen has just spotted a drunken elephant in the living room. Do UI administrators mean business or not, he asks. If so, he and the Harvard study have lots of suggestions as to proactive steps that would make a difference.
Absent in the conversation about the University of Iowa and the football players gone wild is any serious discussion of alcohol's role in campus crime.Marc Hansen, "Alcohol plays a big role in campus crime," Des Moines Register, July 29, 2008.
By any measure, it's considerable.
The university police department filed 535 charges against students in 2007. Four hundred sixty-seven -- 87 percent -- were alcohol- or drug-related. . . .
When you're talking about alcohol-related "incidents" on campus, the number topped 1,000 for the fifth year in a row in 2007. . . .
If you look at the 18 football players arrested since April 2007, nine of the 23 charges were directly related to alcohol. How many others were indirectly related? . . .
[T]here is such a thing as the culture of alcohol getting out of hand, harming lives and damaging the reputation of the university. . . .
[I]t's time for a serious discussion. Let's look at some findings from the Harvard School of Public Health College Alcohol Study, which says . . . that campus environment can affect student behavior. . . .
If . . . conditions are ripe for heavy drinking [and] "If colleges can change those conditions, they can reduce binge drinking among their students." . . .
Do this [the Harvard and Hansen list of proactive steps] to show the students you mean business. Unless, of course, you don't.
Meanwhile, on the trial front, the headline tells the story. Lee Hermiston, "Satterfield lawyer wants to photograph room," Iowa City Press-Citizen, July 31, 2008, 2:28 p.m. ("The attorney [Alfredo Parrish] for one of the former Hawkeye football players [Abeberell Satterfield] accused of sexual assault wants to photograph the room where the attack allegedly occurred.").
For some serious, and for the most part constructive and respectful discussion by what appears to be former Iowa football players, take a look at, "Why is this happening guys??? Tell me!!!" Forums:Hawkeye Sports:Football, Iowa City Press-Citizen, July 30, 2008
July 30, 2008
For the economics and scope of the Skolar Partnership investigation see Erin Jordan, "Lawyers Handling U of I Probe to be Paid $375 an Hour," Des Moines Register, July 30, 2008:
The scope of the investigation, as outlined in the contract, includes:Jordan also reports "Johnson County judge [Douglas Russell] has ruled the U of I is free to give the regents internal university reports about the alleged sexual assault Oct. 14 . . . clarifying a Nov. 14 order in which he sealed all documents related to the case . . .."
1. Reviewing specific allegations in the Nov. 19 and May 16 letters from the alleged victim’s mother.
2. Interviewing the alleged victim and her family, if they are willing.
3. Interviewing U of I employees including, but not limited to, those involved in the past investigation.
4. Interviewing, as necessary, people with expertise in sexual assault victims’ advocacy and rights.
5. Determining why the letters and other documents were not provided to the board.
6. Reviewing U of I policies and procedures, including, but not limited to, sexual assault and harassment.
7. Reviewing policies and procedures relating to state and federal laws, such as the Family Educational Right to Privacy Act, which protects student records, and the Jeanne Clery Act, which requires universities to report campus crime.
8. Discussing the impact of laws and court orders upon the U of I’s response to the alleged assault.
9. Revieiwng all past investigations and recommendations evolving out of the 2002 Pierre Pierce case.
10. Writing a report for regents assessing whether U of I procedures were followed, identifying problems in the system and making preliminary recommendations of changes.
Yesterday I noted the inherent conflict of interest the Board of Regents has when investigating (or contracting for an investigation of) possible UI administrators' misbehavior, below. Brian Morelli's story this morning reports Skolar's James Bryant indicates he may be looking at that very issue.
Brian Morelli, "Firm will review regents' investigation; Board's initial investigation found no UI wrongdoing," Iowa City Press-Citizen, July 30, 2008 ("The Iowa state Board of Regents will go under the microscope as part of an independent investigation . . .. [that]will examine an initial investigation conducted by the regents that found no wrongdoing in how the University of Iowa responded to the alleged sexual assault. 'We will look at what they did in their investigations, too,' said James Bryant . . .. 'We will look at all the data available. I suspect our finding, by necessity, will look at that. We will state whether it was complete, if it was true or false.' . . . The Legislature might conduct its own review of the case. Some representatives are flirting with possible oversight hearings.")
And see, Editorial, "Make sure rape-case inquiry is thorough - and acted on," Des Moines Register, July 30, 2008; and "Hearing to be Monday in UI case," Iowa City Press-Citizen, July 30, 2008 ("A hearing on a motion filed Monday seeking prescription drug and telephone records of the alleged victim of an alleged sexual assault by two former Iowa football players . . . has been scheduled for Aug. 13.").
Oh, and "Ohio State 24, Iowa 1." Andy Hamilton, "Hawks trail pack in 2009 recruiting," Iowa City Press-Citizen, July 30, 2008.
I have formerly referred to what should be a distinction in the media's reporting of "Story One" (what happened October 14?) and "Story Two" (how did UI administrators respond?). We now have a "Story Three" (how thoroughly and appropriately did the Regents respond?) -- to be followed in September with similar issues surrounding the James Bryant report.
There is actually a fourth set of issues that goes beyond what the UI administrators did, whether policies and procedures were or were not followed, whether they inappropriately withheld the mothers' letters from the Regents, and whether the Regents' investigators should have done a better job with or without the letters.
And that is the treatment of the alleged victim -- not from a legal point of view, whether laws, regulations, policies and procedures were followed or broken -- but just from a common sense, human and humane, caring, courteous and sensitive perspective. President Mason and Coach Ferentz say that her welfare and sensitive treatment were always foremost. The mother's letters allege otherwise. It would be a shame if those issues were to go unaddressed in our focus on legalisms.
July 29, 2008
The Regents' "advisory committee" has selected the "Stolar Partnership" as the law firm, specifically James Sears Bryant, to conduct the Regents' second investigation of UI administrators' handling of the alleged sexual assault case. Brian Morelli, "Regents hire law firm to look at UI; Stolar Partnership to conduct investigation," Iowa City Press-Citizen, July 29, 2008. And see Erin Jordan, "U of I probe could cost $250,000, last 6 weeks," Des Moines Register, July 29, 2008 ("Besides Bryant, who heads the firm's higher education practice, the team will include Peter Goplerud III, dean of the Florida Coastal School of Law and former dean of the Drake University Law School. Doreen Dodson, who specializes in employment and sexual harassment law, and Charla Scott round out the team, [administrative partner for Stolar, Dick] Mersman said."). The Gazette and Daily Iowan also reported the story. Diane Heldt, "New UI rape inquiry to cost about $250,000; Missouri law firm hired to handle reinvestigation for state regents," The Gazette, July 29, 2008, p. A1 [and online version updated at 10:11 a.m., 3:45 p.m.); Olivia Moran, "Law firm takes over investigation of UI; defense requests drug files," Daily Iowan, July 29, 2008. And Regents' President David Miles offered his own reassurance about all of this in an op ed this morning. David W. Miles, "Regents Will Do What is Necessary," Iowa City Press-Citizen, July 29, 2008.
My limited contribution to this aspect of the story is primarily merely to provide links to, and quotes from, the firm's main Web page, the page for the relevant 13-lawyer "Areas of Practice/Higher Education" group Bryant heads, and the personal page of Mr. Bryant.
Both the "Higher Education" page and Mr. Bryant's page note that he "works closely with all types of institutions to prevent and defend claims arising out of institutional misrepresentations and other complex allegations [and] has special expertise in intercollegiate athletics, including NCAA matters, coaches’ contracts, intellectual property as well as the overall strategic management of institutional sports marketing."
His record of accomplishment includes, among many other things, his current positions as a member of the Board of Trustees of both Eureka College and Southwestern College, and authorship of the article, "Representing the Oklahoma Athlete in NCAA Investigations.”
Former Iowa Attorney General, and chair of the Regents' "advisory committee," Bonnie Campbell says of the selection, "I am hoping the complete independence of this team we are hiring, and coming in without a perspective, and not being invested in the result at all ... will allow us to reach our singular objective." And see, Editorial, "'New set of eyes' needed to look into UI's actions," Iowa City Press-Citizen, July 29, 2008 ("We don't believe that [an out-of-state firm] is a panacea for all of the issues and questions the regents and UI face in this situation. . . . UI President Sally Mason says UI didn't provide those letters to the regents because it incorrectly interpreted federal student privacy laws. Is that true? And is that a good reason? Who specifically misinterpreted those laws? Also, did UI disclose that it knew of any concerns raised by the family? Did UI tell the regents it had documents it couldn't provide them because of federal privacy laws? And what questions did the regents' investigators ask, what UI officials did they interview and what documents did they see?)
I will not comment at length about this event, except to note that the Regents, as well as UI administrators, have an inherent conflict of interest in all of this -- not really of their own making, not a conflict that grows out of failures of their personal integrity, but one inherent in their position and job description. On the one hand, they are obliged to represent the people of Iowa in insuring the effective, ethical and efficient administration of their universities, and to investigate as thoroughly, independently and honestly as possible such controversies and possible malfeasance of their administrators as may arise. On the other hand, they are obliged to function as cheerleaders for those institutions, to put the best public face on them as can pass "the laugh test," to minimize their failings and publicize their achievements, and to lobby state and federal legislatures and agencies on their behalf. Thus, the better they do their first obligation the more destructive it may be of their goals with regard to the second.
Did the Regents' investigators contact the alleged victim's family or didn't they? Were they actually informed of the November 19 letter and failed to ask for it? Morelli reports:
[Regents' General Counsel Tom] Evans said that investigators asked to speak to the family for the first investigation but they declined.Looks to me like another major issue surrounding the Regents' first investigation -- at best (from the Regents/UI perspective), yet another "she-said-he-said."
The mother of the alleged victim told the Press-Citizen that neither the victim, herself nor her husband were contacted as part of the first investigation. . . .
The victim's mother said between Thanksgiving and Christmas 2007, she called the board office and requested to speak with the regent president. She said she could not recall the name of the person she spoke with but said she told the person about the letter she sent and her frustrations with the case.
UI Maintains Ranking as One of Nation's Top "Party Schools." The Princeton Review rankings are out again. The University of Iowa may be only 88 out of 99 in "quality of life" and 92 out of 99 in "financial aid support,"
but by golly we're up there in the composite "party school" ranking (12th) and actually number 3 in "lots of hard liquor." (Photo credit: Press-Citizen.) I guess that's the good news; we'll continue to get those students (and their tuition) looking for a good time. The bad news, of course, is that athletes aren't the only ones engaged in alleged sexual assaults and innovative public demonstrations of the offensive behavior fueled by binge drinking. Of course, you can't create and maintain that kind of party school ranking without the support of the Iowa City City Council's creation of 50 or so bars within walking distance of the campus, and the UI administrators. Brian Morelli, "UI Named One of Top Party Schools," Iowa City Press-Citizen, July 29, 2008.
The "Second Rape." As I've so often written, there are two media stories here: (1) the events surrounding the morning of October 14, 2007, and (2) UI administrators' response to those events. This blog entry has focused, and will continue to focus, on "story two." Nonetheless, there is a "story one," and the criminal proceedings resulting from that story, and it has now begun. A rape trial is often characterized as the "second rape" of the alleged victim. A reason why is illustrated by this story: Lee Hermiston, "Satterfield seeks alleged victim's phone, prescription records," Iowa City Press-Citizen, July 29, 2008. It's one of the law's many dilemmas: every accused is entitled to a vigorous and effective defense; on the other hand, it seems fundamentally unfair to place such heavy burdens as that does upon the accused's victim -- or to require as a prerequsite of legal proceedings that those burdens be assumed.
Lee Rood (with contributions from Erin Jordan and Randy Peterson) has two useful, lengthy stories in this morning's Register that combine a wrap up of last week's news, a history of the Pierre Pierce case and its aftermath: the supposed "reforms" at that time that appear not to have been followed now, five years later. Lee Rood, "Latest case at U of I reveals old problems," Des Moines Register, July 27, 2008 ("I am furious," Roxanne Conlin, the Des Moines attorney who acted as a mediator between the victim and the university in the 2002 Pierce case, said last week. "It appears officials did everything in their power to keep this thing quiet, and they did it in a way that was reprehensible."); Lee Rood, "Current dispute recalls 2002 case," Des Moines Register, July 27, 2008.
See, in this connection, Thomas Evans, "Report on the University of Iowa's Compliance with Policy and Procedures While Investigating a Sexual Assault Complaint," Iowa Board of Regents, Agenda Item 17, June 11-12, 2008, complete with 7 recommendations and the 23 attachments in a 162-page, 7MB pdf file. (The Report is primarily a summary of the UI policies and procedures, plus federal and state laws and regulations, that are provided in full text in the 23 attachments. A timeline of UI administrators' actions has been removed from the public document on grounds it qualifies as a confidential student record. And the ultimate conclusion, as widely reported, is that "it is clear that University officials fully complied with internal procedural requirements [and] offered the victim appropriate accommodation . . .." Report, p. 8.)
The Press-Citizen has its own review, along with some new information about what the Regents' "advisory committee" says it's looking for when hiring an investigative firm to conduct its inquiry. Rachel Gallegos, "Regents look at firms to probe UI actions; Downer: Board will hire firm focused on higher education," Iowa City Press-Citizen, July 27, 2008.
And The Gazette? Having headlined yesterday that there are "Plenty of Good Guys on Hawkeye Roster," it puts on page one of its Sunday edition a glowing story -- complete with flattering quotes and really charming photos -- about what a spectacular job UI President Sally Mason does handling floods. Diane Heldt, "Water Logged; Record Flood Defines Mason's First Year," The Gazette, July 27, 2008, p. A1, available as Diane Heldt, "Record flood defines Mason's first year as UI president," The Gazette Online, July 26, 2008, updated 10:39 p.m. (with a carry-over headline in the hard copy version, at p. A10, "Mason/Earning High Marks from Faculty, Regents" -- against which one might wish to compare Regents' President Miles' comment about "trust" upon learning the letters were kept from them). In fairness, the paper does editorialize about this past week's events; e.g., "It would be wrong to assume that any UI official has not acted in what he or she believed was the best interest of all the students involved." Editorial, "Get the Facts, Improve the Process," The Gazette, July 27, 2008, p. A7.
Most of the stories in this morning's newspapers are simply the hard copy versions of what was posted on this blog yesterday from their online editions. However, the Press-Citizen makes some new editorial suggestions about how this public relations disaster might well have been prevented had the University handled it differently. "Regents should look at whether UI could have prevented mess," Iowa City Press-Citizen, July 26, 2008:
Soon after the allegations of the sexual assault in a UI dormitory became public, then-Regent President Michael Gartner made this statement in an e-mail to UI President Sally Mason: "The alleged crime itself is outrageous, if true, and is damaging to the reputation of the University and its athletic department. But if the policies are inadequate or the processes weren't followed, the damage is multiplied."Actually, I was writing about the same things at about that same time, and providing the similar questions and warnings to the administrators of my beloved University -- over, and over, and over -- with precisely the same results:
We pointed out in a Nov. 20, 2007, editorial that "Gartner, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, seems to have an idea of the massive public relations train wreck that is unfolding in Iowa City."
Unfortunately, it seems no one else did . . .. Our view always has been that UI's best strategy was to release more information and to answer as many questions as possible . . ..
What happened, though, was UI did not disclose the existence of the mother's letters to the Board of Regents, even though UI's policies -- and common sense -- make it clear that the Regents should have access. . . .
To quote Regent Gartner, "the damage is multiplied."
[T]here are really two stories here, not one. . . .See, e.g.: Nicholas Johnson, "Culling the Flock; How About Them Hawks?" November 15, 2007;
"Story Two" has almost literally nothing to do with "Story One" [the alleged sexual assault]. Story Two is the story of what University of Iowa officials were involved, and when, and what they did. Not the names of students. Not students' reports of events. Not which students, by name, spoke with officials. But which officials talked to which other officials and when . . ..
If it turns out that the University has had something to hide regarding its administrators' actions in this case, it will pay a very, very high price indeed for its secrecy and willingness to sweep under the rug of "being sensitive to the victim" what those administrators did, or failed to do. . . . [I]t also puts a very heavy tarnish on whatever statements may be offered in the future when the University may have very legitimate reasons for secrecy and the public is left with no more trust in the truth of what it is being told than the trust it has in the statements of a White House press officer.
Despite the hundreds of lessons history offers as to the folly of attempting stonewalling and cover-ups of that which will, ultimately, become public, it may be only human to think that, "for me, on this occasion, I'll be better off to duck and cover than to come clean."
Nicholas Johnson, "Trouble in River City; Locker Room Update: What Can We Know, and When Can We Know It?," November 16, 2007 ("What I don't fully grasp are the reasons for refusing to respond to questions regarding the behavior, not of the athletes or their accuser, but of the University's and athletic program's administrators. What did they know and when did they know it? What did they do about it? Did they comply with the procedures they themselves created for dealing with a situation like this?");
Nicholas Johnson, "Football Story Has Muscular Legs; If UI Won't Talk, Regents Will," November 18, 2007 ("The UI's spokesperson is quoted in this morning's Register as saying, 'We know the time will come when we need to have the public understand what happened, but now is not the time.' . . . Obviously, I disagree. I think now is the time; indeed, it is past time.");
Nicholas Johnson, "Stonewall's Mortar Crumbles; Now the Governor; UI, This is Not Good," November 20, 2007 ("Regardless of what the reasons may be [for the UI's administrators' taking an oath of silence], until the questions regarding their behavior are answered, or explanations are offered for their silence, the hole they have dug for themselves just gets deeper by the hour.");
Nicholas Johnson, "The Greatest 'Story Two' Never Told" in "Not Getting Answers," November 21, 2007 ("So long as officials are asked general questions, for which the answers need not, but could, compromise the integrity of the investigation and possible trial as well as the privacy interests of the accuser and the accused, they can properly refuse to answer. It is only when it is made abundantly and unambiguously clear from the questions that they only deal with the 'second story' that their refusal to respond does, indeed, constitute stonewalling."); and
Nicholas Johnson, "To Err is Human, To Keep it Secret Even More So," December 14, 2008 (the source of the excerpt above).
The other noteworthy addition to this story is Erin Jordan's report that Regents' "advisory committee" chair has announced that a totally independent outside firm will be conducting the Regents' second investigation of UI administrators' handling of these events. This strikes me as at most a very wise and commendable step (one of the first in this months-long disaster), and at a minimum at least a response to all the "Now what?" questions regarding precisely how the three advisory committee members intend to proceed with their investigation. Erin Jordan, "Outside Firm to do U of I Probe," Des Moines Register, July 26, 2008.
And The Gazette? Nothing on page one. What? Surely the story of the additional box of documents withheld from the Regents would be reported somewhere in the paper. Oh, here it is, back on page B3. I wonder what they have in the sports section. Looks like Coach Ferentz is listening to his publicist. The lead headline, top of the fold in the sports section: Marc Morehouse, "Plenty of good guys on Hawkeye roster; Olsen, Kroul, King take pride in being Iowa football players," The Gazette, July 26, 2008, p. C1 (here's a link to the story in yesterday's Gazette Online).
And July 25 . . .
This afternoon [July 25] we learn that there's a bit of a difference of opinion regarding what the University was able to do with its internal reports under a court order.
Johnson County Attorney Janet Lyness said a subpoena protecting documents related to the University of Iowa’s investigation of an alleged sexual assault was not intended to keep those documents from reaching UI officials.Lee Hermiston, "Lyness: Sharing of documents was UI’s call," Iowa City Press-Citizen, July 25, 2008, 3:24 p.m.
In a copyright story published Friday by The Des Moines Register, UI President Sally Mason said she did not read two of the UI’s reports about its handling of the case. Mason cited UI’s interpretation of a seal by a Johnson County judge.
“Ultimately, I have not seen any of the reports that were written,” Mason told the Register.
Lyness said that wasn’t the purpose of the seal.
Yesterday, below, I noted the Daily Iowan had made reference inside one of its stories about UI administrators' handling of the sexual assault case to a controversy at Purdue, and that State29 had gone into more detail about it. Today we have more from Lafayette on that conflict. Brian Wallheimer, "Sides square off on Purdue researcher's misconduct case," Journal & Courier, July 25, 2008, reprinted in this morning's Press-Citizen as Brian Wallheimer, "Purdue Research Controversy Continues," Iowa City Press-Citizen, July 25, 2008.
And the Press-Citizen has now added some more questions to its prior list of 26 (itemized below), in Editorial, "UI, regents must answer growing list of questions," Iowa City Press-Citizen, July 24, 2008.
President Mason has started to fill in some details and respond to some of the mother's assertions. Erin Jordan, "U of I Admits More Was Withheld," Des Moines Register, July 25, 2008 (later available from the Press-Citizenonline as well at 9:38 a.m.).
My comment: The individuals involved in the UI's news and public relations operations are, in my opinion, professional, ethical and competent. But they are, by virtue of the nature of their jobs, obliged to do and say what they are told -- or make their best effort to guess -- their superiors want.Meanwhile, Coach Ferentz simultaneously insists "everything was handled extremely well" and "It may not be fair, but anybody who violates our team rules this coming year, the consequences are going to be a little more severe than they've been in the past." Andy Hamilton, "Ferentz draws line in the sand; Focuses on 2008 roster, new standards of discipline," Iowa City Press-Citizen, July 25, 2008. (And see Andy Hamilton, "Hawks Looking to Future," Iowa City Press-Citizen, July 26, 2008.)
So I can only assume the decision to have UI's administrators persist in their positions that, to quote Coach Ferentz from yesterday, "everything was handled extremely well," must have come from those administrators rather than their public relations advisers.
As I have written throughout this blog entry, and as Pat Harty writes today [July 25], below, "[W]hat makes this case so maddening and hard to comprehend [is that in] order to believe the mother's version of what happened you almost have to believe that some UI officials are corrupt and dishonest." He's right; and for the administrators to persist in professing that "everything was handled extremely well" is to shoot themselves in the foot every time they repeat that public statement.
They have been ignoring the advice that, "When you find yourself in a hole the first thing to do is to stop digging." They've just been digging themselves in deeper and deeper.
It's all a little too reminiscent of the story told in a country song. As the husband comes into the house early one morning the wife asks where he has been all night. He replies, "I fell asleep in that hammock in the yard." When she points out that she put the hammock in the attic a week or so ago he replies, simply, "That's my story and I'm sticking to it." (From "That's My Story.")
For UI administrators, once the mother's letter became public, to continue to say they behaved in an excellent manner was simply not credible -- it made them look worse rather than better -- not unlike the errant husband in the song they appeared to be insisting "that's our story and we're sticking to it."
So President Sally Mason's tentative diversion from that path in this morning's story by Erin Jordan is, in my judgment, a good one from her perspective. Ditto for at least some of what Coach Ferentz revealed yesterday. Unfortunately, it's now nowhere nearly as helpful to the University in general, and them in particular, as it would have been if they'd done it a week ago.
Hamilton's story continues, with regard to the opening game in the "Iowa Hawkeyes Football Criminal Season" (a great run across downtown Iowa City that took 8 police to catch one of our football players, a story that bodes well for the on-field season if not the off-field arrest record):
Riley Reiff might be the first to face the consequences of a more stringent program. The incoming freshman was arrested last weekend for public intoxication and interference with official acts after allegedly leading eight police officers on a 20-minute chase in downtown Iowa City.And see, Pat Harty, "Coach Defends His Actions in Inquiry," Iowa City Press-Citizen, July 25, 2008 ("[W]hat makes this case so maddening and hard to comprehend [is that in] order to believe the mother's version of what happened you almost have to believe that some UI officials are corrupt and dishonest. . . . [T]he stench from this case will continue to linger, along with the two different versions of what happened."), and Scott Dochterman, "UI Rape Case: Ferentz met with alleged rape victim; Insinuation of cover-up draws angry response from UI football coach," The Gazette, July 25, 2008, p. A1, a somewhat shorter version from the day before, Scott Docterman, "Ferentz speaks about meeting alleged victim, family," The Gazette Online, July 24, 2008, 5:07 p.m.
Ferentz said Reiff won't be dismissed from the team, "but it'll be a painful road back."
"I think it's fair to say his incident will be treated a lot differently than it would've a year ago," Ferentz said. "I'd like to think we're educators, and I'd like to think we'll be fair to him, yet at the same time, he's been in Iowa City long enough to know, I would hope, that what he did was not only bad in itself but directly worked against the cause that I think everybody on our team is committed to taking the right path on."
And Abeberell Satterfield's counsel, Alfredo Parrish, weighs in: Lee Hermiston, "Alfredo Parrish: 'Take a deep breath,'" Iowa City Press-Citizen, July 25, 2008, 10:26 a.m. (While Parrish said that he would probably take the same action as the mother of the alleged victim . . . the mother only represents one perspective of how the investigation was handled. “She’s only hearing second- and third-hand about what happened,” he said. . . . However, Parrish said he does take issue with part of the university’s investigation. Parrish said his client should have had a lawyer with him when he spoke with his coaches and university officials about the alleged assault.).
Wrong Again; Story DOES Continue: July 24
Yesterday I predicted that day's news would be the last we'd see of media attention to it -- at least until the Regents' report of September 18. Well, I was wrong. Read on.
"Ferentz talks about assault investigation," Iowa City Press-Citizen, July 24, 2008, 11:13 a.m. (Coach Ferentz tells ESPN (in a statement similar to that of President Mason yesterday), "everything was handled extremely well" -- without responding to a single specific allegation from the alleged victim's mother regarding his involvement or that of other UI administrators). Here's a link to ESPN's full report of the interview -- as well as readers' comments about it. Adam Rittenberg, "Kirk Ferentz speaks," ESPN.com, July 24, 2008, 9:42 a.m. And see, Andy Hamilton, "Ferentz 'takes exception' to notion of cover up," Iowa City Press-Citizen, July 24, 2008, 3:14 p.m. (Kirk Ferentz's similar remarks today when opening the Big Ten Kickoff Luncheon in Chicago), in the July 25 Press Citizen as Andy Hamilton, "Ferentz defends UI's actions Supports how his program dealt with the matter," Iowa City Press-Citizen, July 25, 2008.
Lee Hermiston and Brian Morelli, "Mom to UI: 'Shame on you'; Says alleged victim was harassed," Iowa City Press-Citizen, July 24, 2008 (the mother's second letter of May 16 is largely a repetition of her earlier (November 19) allegations regarding University administrators' abandonment of the alleged victim, leaving her to deal with harassment and related problems on her own). Here is the Press-Citizen's pdf version of the mother's May 16 letter ("Shame on all of you . . .. You all had an opportunity through her to make a difference and be different at your institution. From where I sit you all wasted that chance . . .."). A draft of the mother's November 19 letter, in txt format, is contained within this blog entry, below.
Lee Hermiston, "Direction of Inquiry Unclear," Iowa City Press-Citizen, July 24, 2008 (Regents' advisory committee chair, and former Iowa Attorney General Bonnie Campbell, says, "How we do this cannot be determined yet"). The report is due September 18, 9 days before the University of Iowa's Homecoming Day (and home game with Northwestern). (And see additional details in, Erin Jordan, "Interviews Will Be Redone in U of I Assault Inquiry," Des Moines Register, July 24, 2008, and the Register's thoughtful editorial, Editorial, "Board right to open U of I athletic probe," Des Moines Register, July 24, 2008.)
There is an additional bit of information in the last line of Hermiston's story that is perhaps worthy of comment.
Yesterday I wrote (below) about a potential issue of media manipulation in this story: the shift of focus (whether inadvertent or intentional) away from the allegations in the mother's November 19 letter, and onto the existence of the letter -- and the University's refusal to make it available to the Regents' investigator.
Well, here is another possible example.
It's a common tactic of government agencies and other institutions to save major announcements that might reflect adversely upon them for the evening before major holidays, or forthcoming major news events, when they know there will be few journalists around to cover the story they'd like to kill. I first wrote about this in the Saturday Review , March 11, 1972, in Nicholas Johnson, "Why Ma Bell Still Believes in Santa." (I'd noticed that whenever the FCC was about to stick it to AT&T's customers with a very large rate hike they'd save the release of their decision to the evening before a holiday -- on this particular occasion, Christmas eve.)
So what's in the last line of Hermiston's story? After noting that "Abeberell Satterfield and Cedric Everson . . . have been charged with second-degree sexual abuse. Satterfield faces an additional charge of second-degree sexual abuse. Both men have pleaded not guilty," Hermiston concludes, "Their trials are set for Nov. 3."
Can anybody tell me what is significant about the following day (when the news would appear)?
That's right. It's Presidential Election Day. So if you want to know what happens during those trials I suggest you do what folks did 75 to 100 years ago: get a seat in the Johnson County Courthouse court room that day, because there's not going to be a lot of empty space to fill with that news in the next days' papers.
The Presidential Election, and all that follows our choice, will be to the news in early November what the floods have been to the news in June and July.
Yesterday's Daily Iowan story about the Regents' meeting contained the following paragraphs part way into the story:
During Mason's term as provost at Purdue University, that school was criticized for its handling of an academic misconduct case.Alyssa Cushman, "Regents reopen rape probe: Top UI officials withheld documents," The Daily Iowan, July 23, 2008.
The initial inquiry found a Purdue researcher innocent. The case was reopened, and the subsequent investigation, which closed on July 18, found that the researcher had, in fact, fabricated research results.
The Purdue misconduct case reportedly gave members of the UI presidential-search committee pause, but those issues aren't playing a part in this controversy.
"We're focused on the current situation," Miles told a DI reporter after the meeting.
I have no personal knowledge of the details referred to, or why they were inserted where they were in the story, and thus have only curiosity rather than comment. However, State29, who retired from blogging earlier this month, has no such reluctance and briefly came out of retirement to post, State29, "Sally Mason, Miss Coverup 2008," July 22, 2008 -- but before going there: "Caution: Rough Blog Ahead; Enter At Your Own Risk; Must Be 18 Or Over."
Now What? -- July 23, 2008
Thank goodness this is all behind us now, right? Well, not quite.
Each of the major news organizations and reporters covering the story have wrap up pieces this morning. Erin Jordan, "Regents reopen assault inquiry," Des Moines Register, July 23, 2008; Lee Hermiston, "Regents to re-examine UI's handling of assault case," Iowa City Press-Citizen, July 23, 2008, p. A1; Gregg Hennigan, Regents to reopen UI rape inquiry; UI withheld letter to protect woman’s privacy; president apologizes to regents for omission," The Gazette, July 23, 2008, p. A1.
Have you noticed how virtually everyone -- Regents, UI administrators, and even the media -- have switched our focus?
When the mother's November 19 letter was revealed, the issues involved the contents of the letter -- how the alleged victim and her family members had been treated (or ignored) by UI administrators.
And what's the issue now? The existence of the letter! Why was the letter not made available to the Regents -- either last fall, when it was received, or during the course of the Regents first investigation? Were the administrators' reasonable and truthful in arguing that they were legally prohibited from turning it over?
Those are certainly interesting issues, worthy of being pursued. But they scarcely go to the heart of what this part of the case (i.e., the behavior of the administrators, as distinguished from the alleged behavior of the accused) is all about.
Whether intentionally or not, the result of yesterday's meeting is that the allegations in the mother's letter -- indeed, anything having to do with UI administrators' behavior -- will by tomorrow be nowhere to be found on the front pages of Iowa newspapers, and soon thereafter will have passed from the public's mind and memory.
The Regents won't be willing to talk about them because, well, that's now the responsibility of their "advisory committee." The UI administrators never have been willing to go into detail publicly. (And of course no one can talk about the other matter, the criminal proceeding against the accused.) That pretty well pulls the rug out from under the media, as well, once all the sources, and access to records, have disappeared.
One is also left to ponder how on earth the Regents' first investigation could have come up with the conclusion -- a position that President Mason continued to express even yesterday -- that (in her words, from The Gazette) "I have no reason, at this point, to suspect or expect that anyone did anything that was against policy or procedure."
Doesn't one's acceptance of her assertion necessarily require an accompanying conclusion that virtually all of the events, meetings, and conversations recounted in the mother's November 19 letter are lies? Re-read her letter; it's included in this blog entry. Is it conceivable that any institution would have "policy or procedure" with which the behavior alleged would be consistent?
So, the Regents' investigator didn't have access to the letter. So shame on the UI administrators for not turning it over. But how, if even half of what it contained is true, would none of that come out in a thorough investigation -- even without access to the letter? Were penetrating questions not asked? Were they asked, but not fully and truthfully responded to?
Whatever the reasons, the Regents aren't looking all that good this morning either.
It's all a little too reminiscent of Defense Secretary Don Rumsfeld's reaction to the photographs from Abu Ghraib.
As Secretary Rumsfeld characterized the problem in his testimony before the U.S. Senate, "It is the photographs, the people running around with digital cameras."
The problem, in short, was the public relations impact on American citizens (and possibly the president's re-election), and on Iraqis' "hearts and minds." The problem was not our pre-interrogation techniques, the problem was the pictures of those techniques. No cameras, no problem.
So it is with the University's response to this alleged sexual assault. The problem is not the behavior of UI administrators -- so long as there are no pictures or contemporaneous records of what they did. The problem is that a contemporaneous record has surfaced. No letter from the mother, no problem.
I hasten to note that I stand by everything I wrote yesterday as a part of "My Take," below, and that I have great confidence in the integrity and ability of those appointed by the Regents to their "advisory committee." So I wait, patiently and hopefully, for what I assume will be a report of their findings regarding, step by step, each of the mother's allegations regarding the experiences of the alleged victim and her family members with UI administrators. It will be, presumably, a public document. It is due September 18.
NOTE: Regents' Meeting Today [Tuesday, July 22] . . .
. . . [Tuesday, 4:25 p.m.] Mason apologizes:
"Let me begin by expressing my profound and sincere regret for the failure to notify you of the letters that came to the University of Iowa from the mother of the UI student who reported being sexually assaulted last fall in Hillcrest Residence Hall. I apologize for this error and for not making certain that the board had access to all information relevant to this case.""Regents reopen investigation; Mason apologizes," Iowa City Press-Citizen, July 22, 2008; her full statement to the Board of Regents is contained in "UI President Mason responds to Regents’ request," Iowa City Press-Citizen, July 22, 2008, 3:49 p.m.
"The original thinking that federal law known as FERPA, designed to protect student privacy, prevented the letter from being shared with our Board of Regents leadership is just not tenable. There is no excuse for the failure to turn over those letter as part of the investigation that you directed the Board of Regents office to conduct in the wake of the report of the assault."
Barta issues statement. "Barta 'Welcomes' Second Investigation," Iowa City Press-Citizen, July 22, 2008.
Meanwhile, the American Civil Liberties Union of Iowa -- not to mention what will soon be hundreds of readers submitting comments on today's stories -- is not impressed with an "advisory committee," another Board of Regents investigation, and President Mason's promise of a review. Scott Dochterman and Gregg Hennigan, "Regents will reopen investigation of UI sexual assault," The Gazette Online, July 22, 2008, updated 4:24 p.m. (look for sub-head "ICLU calls for independent investigation").
And note, Lee Hermiston, "UI releases victim's mother's letter," Iowa City Press-Citizen, July 22, 2008, 12:17 p.m., and Erin Jordan, "Prosecutor: No U of I obstruction in sex abuse case," Des Moines Register, July 22, 2008, 11:36 a.m. ("Accusations that University of Iowa athletics officials tried to keep sex abuse allegations in-house don't amount to obstruction of justice charges, Johnson County Attorney Janet Lyness said today.").
. . . [Monday, 7:30 p.m.] "The board will meet [Tuesday, July 22] at 3 p.m. in Room W401 of the Pappajohn Business Administration Building." "Regents to Meet at UI to Discuss Assault Investigation," Iowa City Press-Citizen, July 21, 2008. Here is a link to Regents' General Counsel Tom Evans' earlier report, characterized by Lee Hermiston, below, as a "13-page report released by the regents in their June 11-12 meeting agenda."
Lee Hermiston, "Regents to Reopen Sex Assault Investigation," Iowa City Press-Citizen online, July 22, 2008, 11:32 a.m. ("The Iowa state Board of Regents plans to reopen the investigation of the University of Iowa’s compliance with its policies and procedures while responding to the alleged Oct. 14, 2007 assault involving UI football players. According to the agenda for today’s 3 p.m. regents’ meeting at the university, the regents will discuss the establishment of an advisory committee to the Board of Regents.")
For comments about all of this from a former Hawkeye, and subsequently professional, football player with some class -- along with how Coach Hayden Fry dealt with the challenges -- see Pat Harty, "Dwight troubled by UI legal woes; Former Hawk says some players' misconduct embarrasses program," Iowa City Press-Citizen, July 22, 2008.
And see, Lee Hermiston, "Regents investigator not aware of letters from victim's mother," Iowa City Press-Citizen, July 21, 2008 -- in next day's hard copy edition as Lee Hermiston, "Letter Not Included in Investigation; Regents' Attorney Never Given Mom's Criticism of Response to Alleged Assault," Iowa City Press-Citizen, July 22, 2008, p. A1:
“I wasn’t made aware of the existence of either letter,” Evans said, adding UI General Counsel Marcus Mills told him of the letters Friday morning. . . .And, below, the 26 questions to which the Press-Citizen thinks the Regents should obtain answers from University of Iowa administrators.
According to Evans’ [13-page report released by the regents in their June 11-12, 2008, meeting agenda], after a “comprehensive review of the facts … it is clear the University officials fully complied with internal procedural requirements.”
However, Evans’ comprehensive review seemingly did not include any input from the victim or her family.
“We asked to speak to the family, and they declined,” Evans said.
Erin Jordan reports this morning [July 22] that Regents' President David Miles has boiled them down to two:
• Why did U of I officials not tell regents about letters the university received from the alleged victim's mother?Erin Jordan, "Regents to Evaluate U of I Action in Rape Case," Des Moines Register, July 22, 2008.
• Do the mother's letters, which include allegations the U of I mishandled the case and tried to keep it in the athletic department, warrant reopening an investigation of how the incident was handled?
And I have another "media question." Given that the information was known on Friday, July 18, all over the Press-Citizen's front page on Saturday, July 19, and the Sunday Register's front page July 20 (not to mention the Chicago Tribune's Web site and those of numerous other newspapers and television stations Saturday [July 19] evening -- even USA Today had it on the 21st) why did the Gazette wait until this evening [July 21], in a story first posted around 5:00 p.m., and updated at 8:08 p.m., to touch it? Gregg Hennigan, "Regents Demand answers From UI About Assault Letters," The Gazette, July 21, 2008, updated 8:08PM -- headlined in the next morning's hard copy edition as Gregg Hennigan, "Board Demands Answers From UI; Letter in Which Mom of Alleged Assault Victim Claims Daughter Was Pressured Comes to Light After Inquiry," The Gazette, July 22, 2008, p. A1.
(a) If there was an initial concern that story was copyright, that was resolved when it became an AP story at 6:00 p.m. and others began going with it.Having now played my role as The Gazette's media ombudsperson let me go on to balance it a bit by referring you to its editorial this morning, as yet one more example of the outstanding local leadership the paper provides Eastern Iowa on a range of public policy issues -- this time having to do with future planning regarding local floodplains. Editorial, "Explore Where We Haven't Gone Before," The Gazette, July 22, 2008, p. A4.
(b) If there was reluctance to make reference to a story that a competitor broke, that's worrisome. Readers ought to be able to rely on each individual paper for local news without having to read them all to see the scoops of its competitors.
(c) If there was reluctance to go with "allegations" (in the mother's letter) without confirmation of the alleged facts, once the letter was spread across the pages of the Press-Citizen no one's privacy could be preserved by The Gazette's reluctance to print. Besides it could always, as it ultimately did, report as its "news" not the letter, or the allegations it contained, but the mere fact that the Press-Citizen had published the letter and accompanying story.
(d) If a story is not a story until some official government body (the Regents) announces it is going to have a meeting about it, that's another illustration of this troublesome tendency of mainstream media.
[Monday, 1:30 p.m.] Monday's Register reports there's a second letter; Regents to meet:
Iowa Board of Regents President David Miles said he is shocked University of Iowa officials did not tell regents about letters they received from the mother of a U of I student who alleges she was sexually assaulted by U of I athletes last fall.Erin Jordan, "Regents official 'shocked' by letters sent to U of I," Des Moines Register, July 21, 2008.
The board will meet Tuesday afternoon in Iowa City to discuss in an open meeting the U of I's response to the reported assault and the reasons why the mother's letters were not disclosed to the regents during an earlier investigation of how the incident was handled. . . . The university did not do itself any favors by not providing this document," Miles said. [See below for story about, and full text of, the first letter.] . . . The mother sent a second letter to U of I President Sally Mason on May 16, regents confirmed. . . .
"It [the letter/s] raises a lot of concerns as to the level of support given to a student who was alleged to have been a victim to a criminal act, a felony," [Regent Bob] Downer said. . . .
[T]he board investigated the handling of the incident earlier this year. The investigation was ordered because of concerns about a three-week delay between the date of the alleged assault and the start of a police investigation. The board office staff released a report in June saying the U of I did nothing wrong.
The July 19 blog entry, as modified July 20:
For the benefit of those out of town readers of this blog who check it for University of Iowa news, there's more on the UI sexual assault case this morning. Here are some links. This blog entry will be expanded today, and kept up to date as anything more is revealed.
And speaking of "more revealed," today marks the first day of this fall's "Hawkeye football criminal season." It's small potatoes compared with the primary story in today's blog entry, but this morning a Iowa freshman football player got the season off to a dramatic start:
Incoming University of Iowa freshman football player Riley Reiff pleaded guilty to public intoxication and interference with official acts early Saturday morning . . . [and] was fined $562 . . . following a drunken chase in downtown Iowa City [where he] was observed as disoriented and taking off his clothes in an alley . . . ran into the Pita Pit's kitchen and knocked several trays on the floor, according to police.Scott Dochterman, "Iowa football player pleads guilty after downtown chase," The Gazette Online, July 19, 2008, 2:01 p.m.
Police say it took nearly 20 minutes and eight officers to apprehend Reiff. He . . . refused to take a Breathalyzer test.
Since April 2007, 18 Iowa football players have been arrested, including five on felony charges.
Iowa officials were unavailable for comment.
I have written at great length about the much more serious events throughout the past 9 months involving football players alleged to have engaged in a sexual assault, and will not add to that today, with the exception of some summaries, and the provision of links. (See, e.g., Nicholas Johnson, "UI, Sexual Assaults and Secrecy," January 5-9, 2008, and its links to additional blog entries; and Nicholas Johnson, "Not Getting Answers," November 21, 2007, with links to four prior blog entries, including Nicholas Johnson, "Trouble in River City," November 16, 2007.)
For clarity, I'll provide one of those summaries right here. As I've written for months, there are really two stories here that tend to get conflated in the media and the public mind.
(1) One involves who was involved, and what happened involving the alleged victim, the early morning of October 14. Those allegations and facts, and the legal process they have triggered, are for the most part not involved in today's story. (One of the latest set of revelations of those details are reported in Lee Hermiston and Brian Morelli, "Documents detail sexual assault case; Judge orders release of court records," Iowa City Press-Citizen, June 17, 2008, p. A1.)
(2) Today's news only (or primarily) concerns the second story. That is the story of University of Iowa officials. What did they know and when did they know it (to borrow Senator Howard Baker's famous repeated question during the Watergate hearings) -- and what did they do about it? Who talked to whom, when, about what, and what action followed (redacting as appropriate names of and details regarding the alleged victim and accused)? What are the University's procedures governing its administrators in such situations? Were they followed? Were administrators totally candid with the Board of Regents during its investigation (e.g., did they or did they not provide the mother's letter to the investigator)? Were professions of "sensitivity" for the alleged victim -- offered as a reason for a refusal to disclose their own communications and meetings with each other -- perhaps motivated, even in some small part, by a desire to cover up their own behavior?
In its online edition, July 21, the Press-Citizen came up with the following expansion on those questions:
• Who at UI met with the alleged victim between Oct. 14 and Nov. 5? How many times did each UI official meet with the alleged victim and what was the purpose of the meetings? What was said by the officials, the alleged victim, her family and others the meetings? Are there written records or audio or video recordings that document the meetings?Editorial, "Sex Assault Questions That Must be Answered," Iowa City Press-Citizen online, July 21, 2008.
• Did UI officials encourage the victim to keep the matter in-house? If so, why? If not, can UI provide documentation?
• Did UI follow its policies in this case? Were any of the policies in conflict with each other? Were the policies bad policies? Did anyone at UI raise concerns about the policies or the handling of the matter in general?
• Did UI provide, or offer to provide, copies of the letter from the alleged victim’s mother to the Iowa state Board of Regents when it asked questions about this matter? If not, why not? What questions did the Board of Regents ask UI when it was investigating these issues in late 2007? Who did Regents representatives talk to when they investigated? Do the Regents now feel that investigation was adequate?
• Has there been a review of the security situation at Hillcrest Hall? If so, who conducted the review? Did UI football players have a key to the vacated room in the dormitory where the assault allegedly took place? If so, who gave them the key? Whose room was it? Did UI officials know the room was empty at the time of the alleged assault? Did UI violate its residence hall policies? Did UI officials allow or direct Hawkeye football players to move back into the room after the alleged assault? If so, when, and why? Did football players throw away things found in the room that might have been evidence in the criminal case? Did UI officials know that potential evidence might have been removed?
• Has anyone at UI been disciplined or reprimanded as a result of their handling of this matter?
Like Will Rogers, "All I know is what I read in the papers." I have no inside information regarding the answers to those questions -- nor do I have any way to evaluate the truth of what's alleged in the letter said to be from the alleged victim's mother, nor in the University's conflicting "statement." So I'll just refer you to "the papers" and let you draw your own conclusions. (By Saturday evening some 64 Press-Citizen readers had not only done so, they were sufficiently motivated to share them by way of the paper's "comments" feature.)
Here's the most significant single story with which to begin:
Brian Morelli and Lee Hermiston, "Alleged victim's mom criticizes UI; Says university officials were unresponsive," Iowa City Press-Citizen, July 19, 2008, p. A1. The Press-Citizen (which includes the letter in today's hard copy edition) has provided only a pdf version on its Web site. So I have reproduced below what I believe may be the only online text version of the letter available on the Internet. Although no University official was willing to respond to the letter, or otherwise provide a statement for the press, a statement from "the University" -- an account totally at odds with that of the mother -- is contained in the Morelli and Hermiston story.
Media coverage. The Gazette made no mention of the story in its updated, online edition -- understandably, perhaps, in its "New Database: Relive Some of the Greatest Moments in Iowa Hawkeye Football History" section, but not even in its special "Iowa City Assaults Against Women" section -- nor did the Des Moines Register. However, the Quad City Times did, and by 6:00 p.m. the Chicago Tribune had done so as well, Associated Press, "Iowa allegedly pressed to keep rape probe in house," Chicago Tribune, July 19, 2008, 6:00 p.m. CDT -- along with Minneapolis station WCCO-TV, and other national and regional newspapers and stations. In the Register's Sunday, July 20, hard copy edition it ran the Morelli and Hermiston story on p. 1 (though there was still no whisper of it in The Gazette that morning).
Having read the mother's letter, you might want to compare it with President Sally Mason's comments to the Press-Citizen on November 20, 2007 -- almost precisely the same time as the mother's letter. Here is the relevant 5-minute video excerpt from that conference:
Other relevant, and current, stories and information would include:
Lee Hermiston, "Gov. Culver Wants Answers," Iowa City Press-Citizen, July 19, 2008, p. A1 (which includes reactions from Board of Regents President David Miles, and member Bob Downer in addition to those of the Governor).
"Alleged UI Sexual Assault Timeline," Iowa City Press-Citizen, July 19, 2008, p. A8.
Editorial, "UI Shouldn't Block Release of Records," Iowa City Press-Citizen, July 19, 2008, p. A17.
Here is the text of what is represented to be a November 19, 2007, letter from the mother of the alleged victim to University of Iowa administrators (a subsequent letter of May 16, 2008, from the mother has just [July 18-21] been provided the Regents by UI officials, but has not been made public):
I am. writing this letter in response to my visit last week to Iowa City.
As I reflect on the many hours of meetings that the victim and I had with the officers from DCI, University of Iowa Police, the County Attomey's office and the various offices of officials at the University of Iowa I would like to communicate what I learned and experienced.
Firstly, I want to thank Chuck Green for his willingness to go to DCI on behalf of the victim. I recognize that that action took a great sense of what was best for her, the school and his position. I commend him for his professionalism and character. In the same vein I want to commend Officer Brian from the University of Iowa Police and Diane Funk from the Rape Crisis Organization for their compassion, commitment and genuine help toward and on behalf of the victim. I would like, also, to thank Mr. Wade Kisner, Special Agent in Charge, and Mr. Jaggat Sandu, Special Agent, both with DCI. They were and continue to be, extremely capable, profession and above reproach.
Secondly, it is my purpose to convey to those involved my perspective of the situation at hand and what has happened from our point of view up to this point, Monday November 19,2007.
I do not want to be complicated, therefore I will communicate what I hope to be a very straight forward assessment.
On Sunday, October 14th the victim went directly to the hospital and the University of Iowa Hospital ER. Her Dad. anived in Iowa City around 1 am that night. Beginning Monday morning at 8am the victim told her story to University Administrators in the Athletic Department. She met with her counselor XXXX at 8 am, and from that time on met witlt Gary Barta, Fred Mims, Asst. Athletic Director, the Head Football Coach Kirk Ferentz and Betsy Altmaier along with her XXXX Coach XXXX. There were no other officials brought in, nor was it ever suggested by those present that there was any intention or need to do so. The victims father was there from Monday until the next Saturday. There was adequate time for someone to call in the higher officials to address the problem. They were told that if the victim chose to go with an Informal action the Athletic Department would act swiftly and effectively. If she chose to go Formally, which was explained as an in-house process by going outside the Athletic Department, she would be looking at a long, arduous process. She elected to go Informally as it seemed it would be taken care of immediately rather than over a long period of time. She was really encouraged to try the Informal route first. Her dad asked that the Football Coach attend the meetings as it was communicated to him that it would be through the Football program that this would be dealt with and handled. During one of these meetings with the above mentioned people it was brought out that this would be the 8th or there had been 8 infractions involving the Football Team. In hindsight what did that have to do with anything except that maybe it put the program and the school in some kind of jeopardy if this went Formal. It was also discussed that there were three options for the victim. Informal, Formal or Criminal. There was never any information given during that entire week regarding the process of investigation which would involve the EOD [the University of Iowa's Office of Equal Opportunity and Diversity]. No one ever gave any direct picture of what even an informal action would entail, just that it would be swift and that the Athletic Department would take care of everything. Never was the EOD mentioned. Not one time. Nor was the victim ever advised that she could, or should in fact have an advocate at any or all meetings.
The father of the victim left that Saturday October 20th. From that day forward my communication regarding this situation was initiated by the father. He was directed to speak with Mark Mills. Betsy Altmaier called in Mark Mills. We were never given any clear reason why he was now involved. We asked over and over and over and over -- what is the process? What can we expect? Who is protecting the victim after she told her story to so many people that first week? Where are these boys in all of this? NO ANSWERS. Only, due process, due process. Our question was also, Who is in charge? Even on Monday, November 5th the father called the office of the President of the University of Iowa. The woman he spoke to asked what it was regarding and he told her it was of an urgent nature regarding an assult on campus and to please have the President return his call as soon as was possible. He left his name and number. It looks from this vantage point as if the President was not familiar with his name, which would also suggest she was not familiar with what had happened up to that point. He never received a call back. We had asked during that first week that someone speak with the victims professors as she missed an entire week of school due to an enormous amount of meetings and emotional crisis. Father and daughter were told that that would be handled. it wasn't. Not until she was given Diane Funk as her advocate were the teachers notified. After 3 and a half weeks. The victim spoke personally to her XXXX teacher. Something that was very difficult. The father called Frank Mims and told him 2 weeks later that someone needed to address her
academic situation. He called the victim in and arranged for her to drop her Class. The week after the Saturday that the father left and after the father had called Frank Mims for updates, Frank called the victim to his office. He told her there were some folks that needed to talk to her and could she come over to their office. He did not tell her she was going to an interview with EOD. She had no idea what she was heading into. In a sentence it was a most traumatic experience for her. They were aggressive and forceful in their interviewing tactics and accusatory in their stance. She told me afterwards, while crying, that they basically accused her of bringjng this upon herself. She was interviewed with the intention of making her feel that she caused this. I would like to interject here that from this vantage point I am very gravely concerned about the outcome of an investigation that was had without the knowledge of Dean Jones, as that is protocol in the code of student conduct for the University of Iowa which I learned from Dean Jones himself. Her friends were called in as well, not having any idea what they were being called in for, and without the mention, again, of the right to an advocate, and they also left crying feeling as if they had committed some kind of crime by being associated with the victim and this situation. It was handlcd very poorly and less than professionally. And all without going before Dean Jones.
On Monday November 5th the victim, after having been confronted by the perpetrators and their friends on a daily basis and having found no sense of protection or involvement by the University of Iowa, went to the University of Iowa Police. She met with Officer Brian. She told him everything. From that day forward things have taken a new turn. Brian met with her several times during that week and on Friday November 9th he called her in to meet with Diane Funk and himself. He proceeded to reveal to her that there were not 2 boys involved, but 3. The third boy had raped her while she was unconscious and that the University of Iowa Athletic Department knew that. They knew that all the way back during the first week after the assault. And they had kept that from her and her Dad as far back as the first week after the incident.
Needless to say the victim was struck down. It was that next Monday that the father decided that he would call Chuck Green and find out who is objective here? Everyone is connected to the U of I. With a great sense of character I believe that that is when the OCI was called in. And rightly so. On Tuesday November 13th the victim called home and said that she had just discovered that 3rd boy that was considered the attacker was living in his girlfriends room in Hillcrest 3 doors down from her room. For THREE WEEKS.
I arrived in Iowa Wednesday morning November 14th. I was met at the airport by the Univenity of Iowa police and taken directly to the police offices. I spent the afternoon with the DCI officers and Chuck Green. On Thursday morning the victim and I met with Ann Lahey with the County Attorney's office. That afternoon the victim was again interviewed by the police.
At this point I want to communicate a most amazing experience that, I think, says everything about how the school had handled this until this point.
On Tuesday November 13th the father had made a call into Mark Mills to ask, again, what was happening.
Mark called him back and told him that since I would be there the next day he would like for me to get in touch with Dean Jones and a Mr. Baker as, according to Mr. Mark Mills, the investigation should be complete by that time., While the victim was being interviewed I asked Officer Jaggat Sandhu if I should call Dean Jones and he told me to go ahead. I called and got through to him. I introduced myself, gave my name and asked if I could meet with with him regarding the outcome of the investigation. He, Dean Jones, proceeded to tell me that he did not know who I was, did not know my name, my daughters name, nor anything regarding this investigation. He told me he "had nothing". I learned later that that point was in fact very true as the report had been subpoenaed and he had not seen it. However, he said to me he could not help me. Mark Mills also communicated with the County Attorneys office that day that, in fact, this was not done with Dean Jones knowledge. He had not been involved. My question to him, then, was how can you possibly help the victim when you have no idea what has been happening, and, more importantly, why don't you know anything? How is that remotely possible?
On Friday morning I received a call from Diane Funk telling me that there would be a clause in the release of housing contract that would forbid the victim from going into Hillcrest forevermore. I called Jaggat Sandhu and explained that that absolutely seemed like a punishment rather than a protective and supportive action for the victim. I met that morning with Betsy Altmaier. Up until that meeting I was under the impression that she has something to do with representing the Presidents Office. Meaning, the victim and the father were under the impression that Betsy represented the Presidents Office which gave them the false feeling that things were left with the authorities that could and would handle this "swiftly and efficiently". They thought that because she had attended all of the meetings from Wednesday on the week the father was there, that the University formally knew exactly what had happened to the victim. We were very wrong. I
learned in that meeting that although Betsy is a most wonderful advocate for the Athletic Department as is related to the victim, it was not through her that the school would necessarily be informed of this situation. Again, my question was, who is telling who what?
We then went to the Office of Dean Jones. Mr. Chuck Green and Diane Funk were also in attendance. The meeting began with Dean Jones asking what exactly we needed. I began talking. The victim interrupted me and told Dean Jones that she needed out of the Dorm as she had been experiencing unending harassment from the friends of the boys involved in this as well as the boys themselves. She had found out that one boy had actually been living 3 doors down from her for 3 weeks. The very boy that the Athletic Department knew had been involved while she was TOTALLY unconscious. They mocked her, called her names, laughed at her and had been left free to do whatever they chose after she had told her story for a week to various University Officials with absolutely no help fonhcoming. Dean Jones asked the victim point blank "How can I know you will be safe if I allow you to go in and out of Hillcrest!". Her reply was simply that she had been doing it all alone for almost 5 weeks, with no help or intervention from anyone, and had trusted that someone would come to her at some point with a solution, help, hope, a sense that what she had reported was taken seriously. Never happened. She also told Dean Jones that the Athletic Department had lied to her directly the week of October 15th knowing there was a third boy that had raped her while she was unconscious and she had never known that until the police had become involved and her trust of the University was depleted. We left that meeting knowing that in the case of someone claiming sexual assault the University protocol and Code of Student conduct an Informal action is NEVER taken. Why didn't someone tell the victim and her father that the week of October 15th? Why didn't one or ALL of the Administrators in those meetings that week, or the next week, or the next week, (while the victim and her family are waiting for any forthcoming answers) bring in Dean Jones???????? Where were the troops? Why did no one at the University level know the protocol and follow it? Why didn't Fred Mims call Dean Jones? Why didn't Betsy Altmaier call Dean Jones? Did Betsy Altmaier tell the President? If not. why not.
How can you hear this story and not look into some book of Protocol and find the page that says when a sexual assault is reported there IS NO INFORMAL ANYTHING. It must go to Dean Jones. Why didn't Mark Mills call Dean Jones? Why didn't the football coach call Dean Jones? Why didn't the EOD call Dean Jones? Why didn't someone direct the victim or her father in any given phone call day after day after day, to call Dean Jones? Did someone call him and not go through the correct channels? Who was in control of this information? The victim and her father were lead to believe that the meetings called and attended were right where this information belonged and that it would all be handled in an efficient, swift, effective and just way. Just give us time to practice due process. And if that were not the case why didn't one or all of those people direct the victim and her father in the way they should procede to get this taken care of!?
That is why the victim went to the police. No one from the University ever contacted her and gave her any sense of direction, protection or involvement. She was on her own. We were on our own. The victim was left with NO CHOICE but to seek help outside of the school. She was being harassed by athletes in the group in which the attackers belonged. I understand that 2 of the players were suspended for lying. No one told us what, if anything was happening.
Finally, in conclusion, as look back on the past 5 weeks this is what I see. I believe that the University did not handle this situation in a professional way that followed University protocol and compliance to its OWN roles set out in the code of student conduct. I believe that interim action against these boys is absolutely very late in coming. If only for the protection of the victim. I am horrified, as is anyone who even hears of this is, to learn that the boy that raped the victim while she was unconscious was living 3 doors down from her for 3 weeks.
In my understanding we are waiting at this point for the DCI investigation to be completed. Because the school never gave the victim or her family any sense of something being done that we could hold on to, this seems to be reaching epic proportions. I understand that the media is hounding and waiting for any morsel. I am so sorry that this is the case. This ABSOLUTELY could have been avoided if the University of Iowa had stepped in and done the right thing by all involved. When the investigation is completed and is presented to the County Attorneys office it is up to the victim to decide where to go with this. I also understand that the boys have engaged very high powered attorneys.
We are distressed over the events that have occurred but I feel as though the people that are now involved will get to the bottom of this and the right thing will be accomplished. I actually made a call today to the President of the University, Sally Mason. She shared her concern but told me in no uncertain terms that she
very rarely gets involved with things of this nature. Isn't that the truth. Me neither. The victim either. Who is at the helm? I believe that she is involved whether she wants to be or not as she is giving statements to the press. I told her she might like to take a minute with me and she simply told me she would direct me to someone who handles these things. My question today is WHO IS THAT PERSON AND WHERE HAVE THEY BEEN FOR THE PAST FIVE WEEKS? The victim went first to the hospital then DIRECTLY to the Administratosrs of the Department of which she believed she would be protected and the situation would be handled and if they couldn't do that, that they would surely direct her or take the information themselves to the authorities that could. The school has brought this to this place. NO ONE ELSE. Again, my purpose in writing this letter is to communicate to all of those people that are involved my assessment of the past few weeks. I hope this says to all that the victim is very determined, responsible, courageous and honest. She does not want to leave Iowa, is very committed to doing what she set out to do there. On the other hand, we cannot let the press or opposing side crucify her in the process, which very, very often happens. More often than not, actually, in sexual assault cases.
I appeal to those that can make a difference in this tragic situation to do what is true, what is right and what will reflect the moral courage and foundations of the University and those that represent it.
I very much appreciate your time and your genuine concern regarding the outcome of this.
The victim and her family
For the most part "I don't have a dog in this fight."
I'm neither attacking nor defending any of the parties who are in any way involved with either the events of October, or the response of University officials thereafter.
I have no clue as to the identity of the alleged victim or any members of her family, but assume I have never met any of them. So far as I know I have never met any of the football players who have been charged.
There are many top officials at the University I have never met, and few if any I would say that I "know well."
And so far as I am aware I do not know any of the lawyers at the Stolar Partnership.
As someone who was born in the University Hospital (of parents who were UI graduates), attended its research/educational programs from age 2 through high school, and returned home from Washington to teach at the University over 25 years ago, where I still am, I obviously have affection for the institution and share pride in its accomplishments -- and grief over its failings.
I want to believe that the Regents are providing the University rational and independent oversight and governance. (See, e.g., Nicholas Johnson, "An Open Letter to Regents on Governance," April 17, 2008.) I want to believe that our University administrators are "putting people before profits -- and public relations."
On the other hand, I think both of the stories here ((1) the events of October, and (2) University administrators' behavior thereafter) are of importance to Iowans in general and those who care about the University in particular. I believe that those who care to know are entitled to know what is going on at their public institutions -- and that it should be relatively easy for them to get access to that information. (I also think they are entitled to know more than they can now find out about the other large-as-government (and more powerful) institutions that impact their lives -- such as the oil, pharmaceutical and mortgage industries).
However, even if Iowans were not entitled to know, my own sense is that the University's best interests have been since last October, and are now, served by confronting the facts openly and candidly and doing something about them, if they prove to be true. Stonewalling and secrecy and defensiveness seldom prove to be in the long range interests of any institution.
Those are the reasons why I have provided here, in one place, such material as I can find that would be of relevance to any Iowan who shares my judgment that these stories are important -- a collection, with links, that is so far as I know the best single collection available on the Web.
As a lawyer, and hopefully a person of judicial/scientific mind as well as compassion, I am reluctant to jump to conclusions about anything or anybody until as many facts are available as possible, and I realize that an assertion, or allegation, is not a "fact."
Having said all of that, I find the November 19 letter at least disturbing. Yes, it's true, we haven't seen proof of who wrote it or how or when; how much of it is first hand knowledge, and how much second and third-hand -- or, indeed, whether any of it is even true. On the other hand, if it was in fact written and sent by the alleged victim's mother -- and there's certainly nothing of which I am aware to challenge the Press-Citizen's assertion in that regard -- and was written on or about November 19, it has the credibility of at least being near-contemporaneous with the events it describes. It has the added credibility of being factually (if facts they be) detailed to a degree that is beyond the ability of all but the very best Iowa Writers' Workshop creators of fiction -- as well as the lack of literary polish that might have been provided by a lawyer or other hired representative. And the author would know that assertions regarding individuals, meetings, and conversations would most certainly be open to easy challenge by those named and easily refuted by them if not true.
The UI administrators' responses have not been reassuring -- for starters because there have been few if any detailed responses. For months, for the most part administrators have refused to make any comment whatsoever. The recent statement from "the University" (and first statements from President Mason and Coach Ferentz) -- in addition to being diametrically opposite to the details and general assertions in the alleged mother's letter -- have been essentially devoid of facts of any sort, let alone refutations of the specific assertions in the November 19 letter. (They have taken tentative baby steps in the direction of more specifics during the last couple days [July 25].)
For my blog entries from last fall urging administrators to recognize not only their obligation to transparency and full disclosure, but why it was in the interests of their own selfish best strategy as well, see within this blog entry excerpts from, and links to, what I was then writing.The UI administrators' behavior, as described, is consistent with a common response of all large institutions and their CEOs when under siege -- silence, stonewalling, denial, cover-up, putting the wagons in a circle, endeavoring to do what is thought to be in the best interests of the institution and its top executives (though that seldom turns out to be the case, as ultimately happened here), while stiff-arming the public and media like some sort of pestilence. That is, until it all "hits the fan" and finds its way into the mainstream media -- at which point the CEO expresses total confidence in all underlings and institutional process, and then stunned surprise that any such thing could ever have occurred, following which reforms are promised, and an "advisory committee" or "task force" is appointed [this sentence was written before the Regents appointed their "advisory committee"] that meets regularly until the media finds another story to chase, at which point the thin, whitewash report is filed and shelved and things go back to "normal."
And see my "That's My Story and I'm Sticking To It" comment
And discussion of the inherent conflict for Regents when investigating and reporting on possible malfeasance by UI administrators.
We are all familiar with examples from government at all levels, the military, police, corporations, trade unions, hospitals -- and yes, sadly, universities, NGOs and other non-profits. That it's human, and common, doesn't make it right, but it does make it considerably less worthy of comment as "exceptional."
So is it possible our UI administrators behaved as described in the November 19 letter? Sure, it's possible. But it's not factual until they either acknowledge that it is, or never do break their code of silence, or prepare a response to the letter that goes through the assertions one at a time, acknowledging some and demonstrating why others are untrue.
Remember, when we are talking about group behavior this
widely distributed poster from www.despair.com with the caption, "None of us is as dumb as all of us." We do things as members of institutions, or groups, that we would never do as individuals. Almost all of us do. I'll leave it to others to study, research, and report why this is and what might be done to improve such group behavior. But it does seem to be true.
So even university administrators deserve a presumption of innocence, independent fact finding (promised by former Iowa Attorney General and Chair of the "advisory committee" as of July 26), and a "fair trial" before judgment is meted out.
But they also require some effective, meaningful oversight and governance by the Board of Regents. We will find out later this afternoon [July 22] whether that is anymore likely to come this July than it did last June, when the Regents' report concluded: after a “comprehensive review of the facts … it is clear the University officials fully complied with internal procedural requirements.”
So what happened this afternoon?
The Regents are appointing an "advisory committee." And UI President Mason promised to look to "outside expertise to examine our overall handling of all sexual assault cases."
Progress? I'll leave that question to you. To quote Fox News, "We report. You decide."