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Iowa regents president: Gray incident suggests UI “not doing a good enough job”

BY STACEY MURRAY | DECEMBER 06, 2012 6:30 AM

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State Board of Regents President Craig Lang said Wednesday the University of Iowa’s handling of the Peter Gray sexual-misconduct controversy is an “obvious breakdown in the process” — one that needs to be addressed immediately.

Lang criticized the UI’s response to the investigation at the regents’ telephonic meeting. He said the university must investigate procedures regarding alleged sexual harassment and misconduct following the former athletics adviser’s Nov. 5 resignation.

“Clearly, the latest incident at the UI suggests the UI is not doing a good enough job in this area,” he said. “It is my expectation that the university continues to address the obvious breakdown in the process, then develop and implement new procedures as soon as possible to ensure the full implementation of board policies to fully protect our students.”

UI President Sally Mason released a statement after the meeting.

“We’re equally anxious to receive the results of the report by the internal auditors,” she said.

The regents will wait until the internal report is released before making decisions on potential UI policy changes.

“What I have asked is that we get that report as quickly as possible,” Lang said. “I don’t think any of the regents want to wait till February to see the results of that report.”

The regents will further discuss action about reporting sexual harassment and misconduct claims at their Feb. 5 and 6 meetings.

“Once we get the report, we will decide whether more policies need to be implemented or whether the policies we implemented had not been fulfilled,” he said.

In light of this current investigation, officials have pointed to the UI’s mishandling of a past case.

In 2007, a female Hawkeye student-athlete accused two Hawkeye football players of sexually assaulting her in a Hillcrest dorm room. Following an external investigation into the UI’s handling of the case, Mason fired Phillip Jones, former UI vice president for Student Services, and former General Counsel Marcus Mills. Mason was not granted a pay increase in 2008, and the regents approved new sexual-assault policies in December 2008.

During Wednesday’s meeting, Lang highlighted the fact that, after the overhaul of sexual misconduct policies in 2008, the regents approved a requirement that all employees take part in sexual misconduct training.

“What is very clear is that some of the faculty failed to take the initial training that they’re supposed to take every year,” Lang said. “I believe that there needs to be a full implementation of the policy we passed after the incident in 2008.”

But UI Presidential Committee on Athletics Director N. Williams Hines doesn’t necessarily agree that there are gaps in the training for faculty and staff in reporting sexual harassment and misconduct.

“That’s a hard conclusion to reach,” he said. “Everybody who is on campus who deals with students in any kind of supervisory way or who has a supervisory responsibility is supposed to get this training.”

The majority of the faculty and staff training focuses on making people reporters, which means they’re in charge of reporting any cases brought to their attention.

“Policies make a very large number of people mandatory reporters. That’s the large part of training — figuring out who has the responsibilities in case something goes wrong, and who’s responsible to follow through,” Hines said.

Gray resigned on Nov. 5 amid allegations of inappropriate sexual conduct with student-athletes and exchanging football tickets with a person not affiliated with the UI for sexual favors.

The documents detailing the allegations were leaked and obtained by the Iowa City Press-Citizen. The UI rehired Gray in 2002 despite alleged inappropriate touching and sexual behavior from 1993 to 1995 during previous employment at the UI.

During the most recent investigation, Gray was placed on leave immediately when officials were informed of the situation.

While the UI continues to review policies, Lang said he wants a quick response to the findings of the investigation.

“The board is anxious for answers,” he said. “We look forward to the findings from the universities’ internal audits team that has been charged with closely examining the process. We hope the investigation team works to ensure a timely report to President Mason and the Board of Regents.”


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