A freshman filed a federal complaint this week against IU in which she alleged the University improperly handled her report of a sexual assault occurring at a fraternity party in September.
Hailey Rial, who filed the complaint with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights, said she felt the IU Office of Student Ethics failed her throughout the hearing process.
“They put in the most minimal amount of effort that they possibly could,” Rial said. “This is supposed to be a process that is both quick and efficient and fair, and I don’t think it was quick, efficient or fair.”
Jason Casares, former director of IU’s Office of Student Ethics, led Rial’s hearing. Less than three weeks later, Jill Creighton, an assistant director for global community standards at New York University, posted an open letter on Twitter claiming Casares took advantage of her after having too much to drink at a convention in Fort Worth, Texas, last December.
Rial said it was Casares who called after her Jan. 16 hearing to tell her no blame was placed in the case and the board believed something happened but there was not enough evidence to prove it.
Her attacker would continue taking classes at the same University on the same campus.
“When Jason told me over the phone that they found him not guilty, I was literally shocked,” Rial said. “My jaw dropped open.”
Rial’s case is one of 18 being reviewed from the 2015 school year when Casares sat on a three-person panel.
University spokesman Mark Land released a statement about the complaint yesterday.
“While the University cannot comment on the specifics of an individual case due to the privacy rights afforded to all parties in an investigation, it does dispute a number of the assertions made in the media as they relate to this investigation,” Land said in the statement.
IU has a comprehensive and robust set of policies related to sexual misconduct that are consistent with those of the Office of Civil Rights, Land said in the statement.
“The University believes those practices were followed in the case,” Land said in the statement.
Casares resigned from his position as Title IX coordinator and director of student ethics last month. Dean of Students Harold “Pete” Goldsmith said Associate Director of Student Ethics Libby Spotts is serving as interim director until a committee can conduct a national search to find a permanent director in April.
Casares’ resignation will put strain on the office, which also has a vacancy in one of its two sexual assault investigator positions, Goldsmith said. An investigator from the University-wide Title IX office has been assigned to assist the office until a new hire can be made by this summer.
With as many as 20 to 30 interviews required in an investigation, Title IX officer Emily Springston said hearings can last up to eight hours.
Rial’s four-hour-long hearing began Jan. 16 with a reading of the Indiana Promise.
“I will be ethical in my academic work,” the promise reads. “I will take personal responsibility for what I say and what I do. I will respect the dignity of others, treating them with civility and understanding.”
“If you sexually assault someone, you’re breaking that promise,” Rial said in an interview with the IDS.
Rial said she reported the assault right after it occurred. After waiting seven hours to complete a sexual assault examination at IU Health Bloomington Hospital that night, Rial filed reports with the IU Police Department and Office of Student Ethics.
In her first meeting with the office, Rial said she was given a student advocate to assist in her case and a no contact order. But she continued to see her attacker on campus.
“Seeing him on campus was uncomfortable and stressful,” Rial said. “There was nothing I could do.”
Upon checking with the Maurer School of Law, Rial said she learned a meeting was never arranged to file a no contact order.
Shaken by post-traumatic stress disorder, Rial dropped out of classes at IU-Bloomington, where she said she felt unsafe and uncared for, and returned home to take classes at IU-South Bend.
It was in South Bend that Rial skyped in to her hearing with the Office of Student Ethics. Rial said 30 witnesses supported her at the hearing and argued consent could not be given the night of the assault because she had been drinking.
However, Rial was not allowed to keep a copy of her case file with her during the hearing, which she said she felt disadvantaged her.
Students are not allowed to keep their own copies of case files but are given access upon request, Goldsmith said.
After learning of Casares’ resignation, Rial sought an appeal with the Office of Student Ethics but was denied.
She had missed the appeal deadline by three days.
She then contacted Springston, who told Rial in an email her case would be one of the 18 hearings reviewed by IU after the allegations were raised against Casares.
Rial said she was told her case would be one of the first to be reviewed, yet she said she has heard nothing since her initial email to Springston in the middle of February.
Goldsmith said the investigation of the 18 hearings would not be a reopening of cases, nor would any of the hearings’ complainants or defendants be interviewed.
“It’s just looking at those cases to see if there’s anything that looks out of the ordinary or looks like it would need to be further investigated, as opposed to rehearing all of the original cases with all of the attended facts and issues,” Goldsmith said.
When Casares was hired to replace retiring Associate Dean of Students Pam Freeman in 2011, Goldsmith said Casares “presented a very good profile of someone who does this work.”
Aside from attending annual week-long workshops Springston described as intensive, she said no other training is required of those hearing sexual misconduct cases.
While Casares did not sit on her 2012 hearing board, Senior Sara Hutson said every year at SlutWalk Bloomington, which addresses the perception of sexuality, she writes Casares’ name on a poster.
Her case will not be reviewed. Hutson said she believes Casares has a history of asking victim-blaming questions in hearings.
“I’ve heard time and time again that he has been super rude and not understanding,” Hutson said.
A survivor of stalking, voyeurism and unwanted touching, Hutson said reporting options were not clearly explained at the beginning of her case and she was told reporting only through the Office of Student Ethics would be easiest.
“I definitely felt like the way it was presented was a little bit coercive, like a little bit skewed toward ‘we-want to-keep-this-an-internal-IU thing,’” Hutson said.
She said because stalking and voyeurism were not mentioned in the Code of Student Rights, Responsibilities and Conduct at the time of her case, the board focused on the repeated attempts her attacker made to grab her and bite her neck on their shared floor and in the sink rooms in McNutt Quad.
Although the male student was found responsible for what the hearing board called “unwanted sexual contact,” Hutson said her attacker only spent one of two semesters’ suspension off-campus and repeatedly violated a no contact order.
A lack of communication between IUPD and the Office of Student Ethics led her no contact order to be unenforceable, she said.
“My trust in the IU Office of Student Ethics is basically trashed,” Hutson said. “It’s not there anymore.”
This story has been updated to reflect the distinction between "no contact" and "protective" orders. University spokesperson Mark Land said the University has no authority to issue protective orders, but can offer no contact orders through its disciplinary system.
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