A nationally known University of Oregon professor whose field of study is rape -- and others on campus -- are sharply critical of how the institution is handling a recent incident involving three UO men's basketball players.
The UO until late Tuesday night had disclosed little about how it reacted to news of the March 8 incident in which the three players -- Damyean Dotson, Dominic Artis and Brandon Austin -- were found to have had extensive sexual contact with a female college student.
A UO spokesman said the university first learned of the allegations from the alleged victim's father on March 9, as noted in a report released by Eugene police on Monday.
But before the NCAA basketball tournament, in which Dotson and Artis played, Eugene police told the university that if it took investigative or administrative action, it would jeopardize the integrity of the criminal investigation and, therefore, requested that the university not take any immediate action, said Tobin Klinger, senior director of public affairs communications, in a statement.
"The university received the police report on April 24, after the criminal investigation was complete and the (Lane County) district attorney declined to prosecute," Klinger said. "Due to federal privacy laws, the university cannot provide further details regarding its actions at this time."
Eugene police spokeswoman Melinda McLaughlin said later Tuesday evening that police notified the university that it had completed its criminal investigation on April 8 -- more than two weeks before Klinger said the university received the police department's report on April 24.
McLaughlin said police were not concerned about who participated in the NCAA basketball tournament as it conducted its investigation.
The university, to date, hasn't released any information about when or if the players will be investigated under the university's student conduct code, or what the university is doing for the unnamed female who is at the center of the incident.
The UO administration needs to "be super-accountable," said UO psychology professor Jennifer Freyd. "Apologize profusely for the harm and say openly that we have a problem that we need to address together, and not give platitudes and not claim everything's OK. To me, that adds injury. That's part of the betrayal."
Just last week, the Obama administration announced a major crackdown on how colleges and universities handle sexual assault allegations, and released a list of 55 institutions nationally that it said is under review.
"We're proud that we are not on that list of 55," UO spokeswoman Rita Radostitz told a Eugene television station at the time.
Freyd, who was in Washington, D.C., last week for the White House announcement, is a member of the UO Coalition to End Sexual Violence. The coalition, made up of dozens of professors and graduate students, formed last year out of concern about how the university is responding to reports of rape. The coalition announced Tuesday that it plans to stage a campus rally against sexual violence on Thursday.
In an open letter released Tuesday, the coalition said it is "beyond frustrated" that the university has failed to prevent such acts of violence. They say they get reports of many such incidents that don't involve high-profile students.
The actions of the UO athletic department and administration give the impression that winning basketball games is more important than protecting students, the coalition's letter asserts.
"The timing of this all raises very deep concerns about who knew what when," Freyd said. "And if things were not known, why not?"
As acknowledged by the university on Tuesday, two of the basketball players participated in the NCAA tournament even after university officials were made aware of the alleged sexual assault.
"They knew they were being investigated for a terrible crime? And they didn't suspend them from the team?" asked UO law professor Caroline Forell, a member of the coalition.
The Ducks picked up Austin this school year -- after he was suspended indefinitely from Providence College in Rhode Island after he and a teammate there were accused of sexual assault.
Freyd said that's a serious concern "because what we know from research is that we have a terrific problem with serial perpetration on college campuses. This was really an example of institutional betrayal -- conveying 'It's no big deal,' increasing the probability of an unsafe environment here," she said.
In a series of statements released earlier in the day Tuesday, university officials said they take allegations of sexual assault very seriously, but also are concerned by some of the coalition's assertions.
UO Athletic Director Rob Mullens' statement: "The athletic department has taken a proactive approach in educating our student-athletes on sexual responsibility by having law enforcement, outside experts and university and athletic department personnel work with our student-athletes throughout the year. For anyone to suggest that our athletic programs in any way condone, tolerate or have a 'subculture' regarding sexual assault is not only wrong, but irresponsible."
UO President Michael Gottfredson, in a campuswide email, said he is "deeply troubled by the information contained in the police report. ... The university has rigorous internal conduct processes that we follow when we receive a report such as this, as well as legal processes and a moral commitment to our students."
Robin Holmes, vice president for student affairs, released a statement in which she criticized the coalition's assertions, saying they are deterring students from coming forward if they have been harmed.
"The assertions are also perpetuating the notion that the UO is not a safe place to receive help, (which) could be potentially silencing to survivors," Holmes said.
Carol Stabile, a coalition member and director of the university's Women's and Gender Studies department, said the university's insistence on silence is hurtful.
"The silence is about making it something that's shameful and that's individual and that's your fault," Stabile said. "It really encourages people to blame themselves for situations that are not of their own making.
"When I read the (police) report, I thought, 'How could anyone think that what they were doing to her was OK?'" Stabile said.
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