A week has passed since Jacksonville State University removed the chief of its campus police department. Why? The university hasn’t said.
A week has passed since The Star reported of an alleged on-campus rape of a 17-year-old female in 2017 by a Gamecock male athlete and the abrupt departure of JSU’s former chief diversity officer, Jai Ingraham, who was initially in charge of the student’s Title IX complaint. What caused Ingraham’s leaving? The university hasn’t said.
A week has passed since Georgia resident Cicely Leufroy, the teen’s mother, told The Star that neither she nor her daughter received copies of JSU’s Title IX investigation into the alleged rape. Why? The university hasn’t said.
JSU administrators are largely silent behind student- and employee-privacy laws that exist for worthwhile reasons. Privacy isn’t a trivial matter. Nevertheless, without a further public explanation of key questions surrounding this case, JSU is putting its reputation at risk. Fired Police Chief Shawn Giddy’s allegation that President John Beehler and Counsel Sam Monk were interfering in the investigation, according to Giddy’s attorney, only heightens that risk. The same goes for Giddy’s complaint filed against JSU with the U.S. Department of Education Office of Civil Rights.
In recent conversations with The Star’s Kirsten Fiscus, several national experts in Title IX issues expressed deep concern over JSU’s handling of the alleged rape. Of those concerns, two rise to the top for this editorial board:
-- Ingraham had the student, then a minor who was on campus for a summertime academic program, sign a document without assistance from her parent, guardian or legal counsel. The student says she doesn’t recall the document’s contents and wasn’t given a copy.
-- Leufroy said her daughter received no assistance or guidance from JSU with medical or emotional services after the alleged incident. In fact, university spokeswoman Buffy Lockette told The Star that it is incumbent upon the victim in a Title IX complaint to notify police or their parents, and that federal law doesn’t require the university to do so.
“Based on what’s been told to me, there are so many things wrong with this case,” Saunie Schuster, an attorney and co-founder of the Association of Title IX Administrators, told The Star. “(The student) was a minor. She shouldn’t have met with or signed anything without a parent or guardian present. (Ingraham) would have known that.”
We wholeheartedly agree.
What’s more, Lockette’s explanation that federal law doesn’t require the university to alert police of an alleged sexual assault in a Title IX complaint is a weak excuse, regardless of federal law. It allows critics of JSU’s handling of this case — most notably, the student’s mother — to loudly claim that the university was more concerned with negative publicity and its male athlete than a minor female’s well-being. Sage Carson, manager of Know Your IX, a national student-advocacy group, told The Star: “I would have expected the school to have encouraged the minor student to report the crime to police, but to (also) be there with her through the process.”
The student and her mother say that didn’t happen.
At the least, JSU should provide the student with a copy of the document Ingraham had her sign last summer. The student and her mother deserve that much.